Sharma case against the ACB withdrawn

– broadcaster says he’s unaware

CN Sharma’s case against the Advisory Committee for Broadcasting (ACB) has been withdrawn, but the broadcaster is saying he has no knowledge of the court proceedings or whether the action is still in the High Court.

Court officials confirmed yesterday that the case was withdrawn on June 20, which is shortly after Sharma met President Bharrat Jagdeo to discuss the alleged infringements of his broadcast licence in the wake of a complaint from Ethnic Relations Commission Chairman Bishop Juan Edghill.

“I don’t know the position with that case… My lawyers they would be able to say if you talk with them. I can’t say. But I am waiting on response from the government since the meeting,” Sharma told Stabroek News yesterday.

Sharma said he had no knowledge of the court case because his presence was not required at the hearings. He mentioned being in court during the initial hearings, but said he stayed away for subsequent hearings.

CN Sharma

Sharma said his attorney Nigel Hughes would be in a better position to “answer about the court case”. However, Hughes is currently out of the jurisdiction and his office would only say that they have no information to provide on the case at this time.

The President met Sharma on June 13, in his capacity as Minister of Information, but no information was released on the meeting. Sharma had previously declined to comment when contacted by this newspaper and had directed all queries to his attorney.

The broadcaster disclosed yesterday that he explained how the infringement happened at the meeting and “pointed out it was a mistake”. Sharma also observed during the discussions that the commentary in question had aired before on another television station prior to his broadcast.

Sharma left the meeting and was told that a response would be forthcoming; no time limit was indicated. “I waiting now to hear what will happen because they said I will hear from them,” he added.

Sharma had moved against the ACB in early June to pre-empt any suspension of Channel Six; the ACB was expected to recommend a six-month suspension of CNS Channel Six’s licence based on a complaint by Edghill.

The interim injunction had restrained the ACB from deliberating on the complaint and from making or attempting to make any recommendations to the President or the minister responsible for communication.

The court order also restrained the ACB members from discharging and/or attempting to discharge their functions as members of the committee unless and until a member has been duly nominated by the Leader of the Opposition.

Edghill had complained to the committee over a television commentary by Anthony Vieira, which aired on May 4, 2011, saying, “Misleading and inflammatory statements and unsubstantiated allegations” were made against him. Subsequent to the complaint, Edghill filed a $25 million libel lawsuit against Sharma and Vieira, citing damage to his reputation and public humiliation, among other things.

The Office of the President had said in a statement that the President had been in possession of the recommendations by the ACB before the ex-parte injunction was granted. As a result, OP called the efforts of Sharma’s attorneys “futile”.

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