Bombay High Court: In an application seeking interim relief for the e-commerce start-up Zilingo’s Co-Founder Ankiti Bose against the article published for ‘having taken out money in legal as well as illegal manners’, S.M. Modak, J. granted interim relief in her favour after finding that even without the mention of Ankiti Bose’s name, the said article pointed towards her only.
The plaintiff in the instant matter was the co-founder of start-up Zilingo — Ankiti Bose. It was alleged that an article was published in the March 2023 edition of outlook business magazine with the caption ‘Vulture Capital to Victim Capital’ with reference to various start-ups including Zilingo with a portion captioned “The Founders’ Flounders” pinpointing that the founders were not innocent bystanders for having taken out money in legal as well as illegal manners. In the said article, there was a specific indication towards a lady who ran a popular fashion portal and took Sequoia’s money, and reference to why that lady transferred funds and improved her profile as a glamorous CEO. The allegations were not limited to the said magazine, but content published on other social media as well. The petitioner through the instant application sought grant of interim relief.
It was alleged that on a plain reading of the article’s contents, one could perceive that the writer finger pointed towards Ankiti Bose. When the Court relooked at the said articles, it was found that there was reference to the start-up Zilingo, and the lady who ran that popular fashion portal. It was further highlighted by the Court that the article indicated that whatever illegal spending was done was by the said lady only.
While noting that the relationship of Ankiti Bose and the fashion portal was not disputed, the Court expressed that even in the absence of Ankiti Bose’s name being specifically referred in the said article when the defendant had admitted her status as the co-founder of Zilingo.
The Court pointed that since Ankiti Bose was the only female co-founder, a fact admitted by the defendant as well, and acknowledged that Ankiti Bose made a case for grant of interim reliefs since balance of convenience was in her favour. And the defendant did not take a stand that the said article was written bonafide or in public interest. The Court stated that the defendant could not escape with the pleading that it did not refer to her.
The Court was of the view that “If this article will continue to appear in the media, certainly, it is going to affect the image of the Plaintiff.” The Court allowed the instant application for declaring defendant’s remarks as tortuous and defamatory, and issuance of directions of permanent injunction.
[Ankiti Bose v. Mahesh Murthy, Interim Application No. 2090 of 2023 in Suit No. 242 of 2023, Order dated 24-08-2023]
Advocates who appeared in this case :
For Applicant: Advocate Amir Arsiwala, Advocate Monika Tanna, Advocate Dhara Modi – Singhania Legal Services
For Defendant: Advocate Rama Subramania