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Tejpal sticks to public interest claim

New Delhi, Aug. 30 (PTI): Tehelka chief executive Tarun Tejpal and two of its journalists have maintained that their “harassment and persecution” would not deter them from the belief that the West End was carried out in public interest to unravel corruption in defence deals.

“Despite the immense harassment and persecution they face today, they continue to believe that it is in paramount public interest that the truth is unravelled, whatever the cost,” Tejpal and his colleagues Anirudh Bahal and Samuel Mathew said in their joint reply to two defamation suits in Delhi High Court.

Additional director-general of ordnance services Major General M.S. Ahluwalia and alleged middleman R.K. Gupta whose names figured in the Tehelka tapes have filed the suits against the news portal and the journalists, claiming damages of Rs 2 crore and Rs 50 lakh, respectively.

Ahluwalia has also made Zee TV and its chief executive Subhas Chandra defendants, alleging that by telcasting the tapes containing “baseless charges” against him, the network had caused immense damage to his reputation.

Tehelka said it had “immediately owned very minor inaccuracies” in the transcriptions.

It also said: “The exercise undertaken by them was with fair objective, bonafide, in public interest and in legitimate exercise of the freedom of expression as available to the press in the country.”

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