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As Sakal Group files FIR against Newslaundry reporter, portal alleges ‘personal vendetta’

Pune-based Sakal Media Group, travel by close relatives of NCP chief Sharad Pawar, has filed an FIR against a reporter of Newslaundry, a web media outlet, claiming copyright violation after its logo was utilized in one among the news reports published by the portal.

Newslaundry, which had reported about employment terminations of employees in Sakal Group in March and April, has alleged “personal vendetta” against the reporter.

Sakal Group publishes an influential Marathi newspaper with an equivalent name from Pune. Its director Abhijit Pawar may be a nephew of Sharad Pawar, and cousin of Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Ajit Pawar. Sharad Pawar’s brother, Pratap Govindrao Pawar, is “mentor and chairman” of the group. An English newspaper from the group, The Sakal Times, was pack up shortly after the lockdown was imposed within the country thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Before filing the FIR, the Sakal Group had served a Rs 65-crore defamation notice on Newslaundry in June for the 2 news reports. Newslaundry had replied saying the reports were factually correct, which they included comments from the Sakal Group. Sakal has not pursued the defamation case.

“We haven’t filed the defamation case, but an FIR for infringement of copyright . this is often because our registered trademark was utilized in a story published by Newslaundry without our permission,” Mahendra Pisal, legal head of Sakal Group, told The Indian Express. He said the FIR, filed on September 16, was only against the reporter, Prateek Goyal, and not against Newslaundry.

“We haven’t filed the FIR against Newslaundry. The FIR is against the reporter as he used Sakal’s trademark logo in his story. He has stolen the trademark,” said Pisal.

Goyal said police had come to arrest him, but he wasn’t reception at that point . He later managed to secure anticipatory bail from a city court. He claimed that police had threatened to lock him up when he had gone to the police headquarters to finish legal formalities on the bail order.

Senior Police Inspector Dadasaheb Chudappa of Vishrambaug police headquarters , where the FIR has been registered, said, “Sakal approached us with a complaint about misuse of its logo (trademark). supported it, an offence has been lodged under the Trademark Act. Further investigation is on.”

When asked why an FIR was filed against the reporter, Chudappa said, “The reporter has used the trademark logo in his story and thus , we’ve filed a case against him.” Chudappa said his team had gone to Goyal’s residence to arrest him, but he wasn’t reception at that point . He denied that police had said anything objectionable to the reporter.

Goyal, meanwhile, said police have also asked for his laptop. “On All Saints’ Day (Sunday), they (police) called me up, asking me to return to the police headquarters with my laptop. But I even have demanded a written notice for it, and also demanded that the hash value (a number that represents the whole content inside the laptop, and changes if the content is changed) of my laptop. they need refused to entertain my request and asked me to return to the police headquarters on Wednesday,” he said, adding he would cooperate with the police work .

Goyal has been working with Newslaundry for 2 years. He had earlier worked with Sakal for a year.

Nipun Katyal, lawyer for Newslaundry, told The Indian Express that Sakal Group had also filed a lawsuit against Newslaundry, seeking an order restraining the web site from publishing those stories further.

“Sakal has filed an FIR against the reporter under Section 103 of the Trademark Act, and a lawsuit against six persons of Newslaundry. One may be a criminal case, while the opposite may be a civil matter,” he said.

Raman Kirpal, editor-in-chief of Newslaundry, said Sakal Group was working on “personal vendetta”.

“When we had carried two stories regarding sacking of employees by Sakal Times, that they had served a defamation notice to us. We had replied to them, asking them to point out any mistakes within the story. We knew the stories were factually correct,” he said.

He said Sakal then filed an FIR against the reporter. “We had used the illustration within the story, which is usually employed by the newspaper or online portal to depict a specific institute. it had been used just for the sake of stories and there was no commercial intention behind it. We try to handle the case legally. As of now, it seems to be a case of private vendetta against the reporter,” said Kirpal.

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