Three of the four Forbes India editors, who were forced out of the fortnightly business magazine allegedly for demanding that the promoters fulfill their contractual commitments on employee stock options (ESOPs), have shot off legal notices to Network 18 and Forbes Media, demanding immediate reinstatement and settlement of dues and damages for loss of livelihood, reputation and mental harassment.
Steve Forbes, the chairman and CEO of Forbes Media, and William Adamopoulos, CEO Asia of Forbes Media, have been named among the eight respondents, since Forbes India is a title licensed by the American parent organisation, Forbes.
The others named in the legal notice are Network 18 chief operating officer Ajay Chacko, editor-in-chief web and publishing R. Jagannathan, group HR director Shampa Kochhar, group general counsel Kshipra Jatana, and group CEO B. Sai Kumar.
Interestingly, neither Raghav Bahl, the controlling shareholder and managing director of Network 18, nor Reliance Industries chief Mukesh Ambani, whose name was drawn into the controversy by the Bombay Press Club, have been named in the June 18 legal notice.
(Update: The managing director of Digital 18 Media is the chief recipient of the legal notice, which at this current time happens to be Raghav Bahl.)
The “termination” of services of Forbes India editor Indrajit Gupta, the “resignation” of managing editor Charles Assisi, director photography Dinesh Krishnan, and executive editor Shishir Prasad, was slammed by the Editors Guild of India as a move that cuts at the “very root of editorial independence”.
While the first three have sent the legal notices, the fourth has chosen not to contest the case.
The notices are seen as the first step before a full-blown court case which would test human resource practices at one of India’s largest media organisations.
The silence of the Press Council of India, created to preserve the freedom of the press and to maintain and improve the standards of newspapers and news agencies in the country, has been defeaning, given the demonstrated propensity of its chairman Justice Markandey Katju to intervene in public debates.
Also read: How the Forbes India editors were forced out
Bombay Press Club blasts Forbes India purge
Forbes purge is a freedom issue: Editors’ Guild
External reading: Forbes will stick to its DNA: R. Jagannathan