Delhi High Court: In a suit filed by Lieutenant Governor (LG) of Delhi (‘plaintiff’) seeking relief of permanent injunction and damages against the defendants on account of defamatory statements made on behalf of Aam Aadmi Party and its members (‘defendants’), Amit Bansal, J., restrained the defendants from posting any defamatory or factually incorrect tweets, re-tweets, hashtags, videos of press conferences/interviews, comments, captions and taglines against the plaintiff and/or his daughter in any manner.
It is the case of the plaintiff that the defendants no. 1 to 6 have launched a barrage of personal attacks against the plaintiff, making unsubstantiated and baseless allegations that the plaintiff has indulged in corruption and money laundering to the tune of Rs. 1,400,00,00,000/- (rupees one thousand four hundred crores) at the time of demonetization in November, 2016, while the plaintiff was the Chairman of the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC).
A legal notice dated 05-09-2022 was issued on behalf of the plaintiff to the defendants 1 to 6 calling upon the defendants 1 to 6 to refrain from making defamatory statements against the plaintiff, to which no reply has been received so far.
There are basically three allegations made which have to be adjudicated on the touchstone of element of truth. The three allegations are
Acts of corruption during demonetization;
Contracts assigned to plaintiffs’ daughter;
Cash Payments made to weavers in Bihar.
The Court noted that all the allegations are unsubstantiated and have been made in a reckless manner without regard to the truth, in order to cause injury to the reputation of the plaintiff, the Court would be justified in granting an interim injunction. After suffering the brunt of such defamatory content, it is difficult to contemplate a complete restitution through damages and such cases demand immediate injunctive relief.
It was further noted that the plaintiff, being a Constitutional Authority, cannot meet the personal attacks being made by the defendants against him by taking resort to social media platforms and therefore, the only remedy available for the plaintiff to protect his reputation and prevent erosion of the same would be to approach the court of law and seek injunctive relief.
The Court opined that the damage caused to the reputation of an individual is immediate and far-reaching on the internet. Balance of convenience is in favor of the plaintiff and against the defendants. Grave and irreparable harm and injury would be caused to the reputation of the plaintiff if the aforesaid defamatory content continues to exist on the internet and the social media platforms of the defendants and defendants are permitted to continue making defamatory statements of this nature against the plaintiff.
Thus, the Court restrained the defendants and directed the defendants to delete/remove all the defamatory or factually incorrect tweets, re-tweets, hashtags, videos of press conferences/interviews, comments, captions and taglines against the plaintiff and/or his daughter published on the social media platforms, failing which, defendant 7 and 8 are directed to take down such defamatory content available.
[Vinai Kumar Saxena v. Aam Aadmi Party, 2022 SCC OnLine Del 3093, decided on 27-09-2022]
Advocates who appeared in this case:
Mr. Maninder Singh, Senior Advocate with Mr. Mahesh Jethmalani, Ms. Bani Dikshit, Mr.Ravi Sharma, Mr. Uddhav Khanna, Mr. Ishaan Karki, Mr.Raghav Tewari, Mr. Ashita Chawla, Mr. Navneet R., Mr. Prabhas Bajaj, Mr. Kishan Kumar, Mr. Wed Khalo and Ms. Anjani Kumar RG, Advocates, for the Plaintiff;
Mr. Rajeev Nayar, Senior Advocate with Mr. Anupam Srivastava, Mr.Vasuh Misra, Mr. Rishikesh Kumar, Mohd. Irsad, Mr. Rakesh Kumar Sinha and Mr. Rajneesh Bhaskar, Advocates, for the Defendants 1 & Defendant 6;
Mr. Sandeep Sethi, Senior Advocate with Mr. Karn Bhardwaj, Mr. Udit Malik, Mr. Rishikesh Kumar, Mohd. Irsad and Mr. Rajneesh Bhaskar, Advocates, for the Defendants 2 and 3;
Mr. Arun Bhardwaj, Senior Advocate with Mr. Manish Sharma, Mr. Ninad Dogra, Mohd. Irsad and Mr. Rajneesh Bhaskar, Advocates, for the Defendant 4.