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Sahara drops defamation case against 'untold story'

Book to release in May with a prominent disclaimer by Group

BS Reporter  |  Mumbai 

The “Untold Story” on Sahara will finally be in public domain next month, with the embattled group withdrawing its legal suit in the Calcutta High Court against publication of a book written by financial journalist, Tamal Bandyopadhyay.

The Sahara Group had earlier moved the court in December and got a stay on its publication and also filed a Rs 200-crore defamation suit against the author and the publisher, Jaico. Under the terms of the settlement, Sahara — The Untold Story, which chronicles the rise and fall of the Group, will carry a disclaimer issued by the Sahara India Pariwar prominently.

A press release issued by Jaico Publishing said Sahara has withdrawn the case and as part of the settlement, the disclaimer by the Group would say: “The book at best can be treated as a perspective of the author with all its defamatory content, insinuations and other objections, which prompted us to exercise our right to approach the court of law... By getting the opportunity to put forward our objections in the form of a disclaimer... in the best tradition of Sahara and our respect for a journalist’s freedom, we are... withdrawing the case we had filed against the publication of the book."

The book will also be published in Hindi and a second edition would be updated with the recent investigations and court trials.

Speaking to reporters here on Friday, Bandyopadhyay said he dropped a few paragraphs that referred to a “muse” of Group chief Subrata Roy and a so-called “torture chamber” owned by the Group, as he did not have enough evidence to substantiate them. “The paras would be 50-60 words in the 70,000-word book. I have covered everything about the Group — the good, the bad, the ugly,” the author said.

When contacted, Abhijit Sarkar, head — corporate communications, Sahara India Pariwar, said the book at best could be treated as a perspective of the author with all the defamatory content, insinuation and other objections which prompted the group to exercise its right to approach the court in order to save the interest of the organisation and its crores of depositors and 1.2 million workers. A statement issued by the Group said, “In line with the best traditions of Sahara and as a gesture of our respect for a journalist’s freedom, we had withdrawn our case against the publication of the book. But we have put forward our objections and reservations in the form of a disclaimer in the book and we are sure that the readers are intelligent enough to see through the maze of plots and appreciate the values that we stand for and the activities we undertake for the sake of nation building.

The controversy started in November 2013 when post a soft launch, the publishing house voluntarily sent a dummy copy of the book to the Group. On finding the book objectionable, Sahara filed the defamation case without getting back to the author or the publisher.

The case has been withdrawn at a time when Roy and two directors are in judicial custody in New Delhi’s Tihar jail since March 4, after being arrested on February 28 on a non-bailable warrant issued by the Supreme Court for failing to attend a hearing related to contempt proceedings initiated by the Securities and Exchange Board of India.

First Published: Sat, April 26 2014. 00:19 IST