Delhi High Court dismisses Mahua Moitra’s defamation suit against MP Nishikant Dubey and Anant Dehadrai in Cash-for-Query Case

A defamation suit was filed by Mahua Moitra, a leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey and Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai seeking to restrain them from making defamatory statements against her regarding accepting bribes in exchange for raising questions in Parliament and sharing her parliamentary account login credentials.

Mahua Moitra defamation suit

Delhi High Court: A defamation suit was filed by Mahua Moitra (plaintiff), a leader of the Trinamool Congress (TMC) against Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Nishikant Dubey and Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai seeking to restrain them from making defamatory statements and making accusations of bribery tarnishing her reputation which are part of a political vendetta. Sachin Datta, J., held that the plaintiff failed to make out a case for grant of any interim injunction against the defendants.

The case revolved around allegations of unethical conduct and defamation involving the plaintiff, wherein defendant 2, in a communication dated 14-10-2023, accused the plaintiff of accepting bribes from Shri Darshan Hiranandani, a business tycoon based in Dubai in exchange for raising questions in Parliament and granting unauthorized access to her online Lok Sabha account to him. The plaintiff and the defendant no.2 are stated to have been in a relationship for several years and are stated to have parted ways on acrimonious terms in 2023. The communication also alleged that the plaintiff received valuable gifts from Hiranandani, constituting bribery or quid pro quo for the access granted. Subsequently, defendant 1, on 15-10-2023, reiterated similar allegations.

The plaintiff vehemently denied all allegations, terming them as baseless, false, and defamatory. However, the defendants provided evidence contradicting the plaintiff’s denial. This evidence included a sworn affidavit from Shri Darshan Hiranandani, wherein he admitted receiving access to the plaintiff’s parliamentary login credentials and fulfilling various demands made by her, including providing gifts and logistical support. Additionally, the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha conducted an inquiry and concluded that the plaintiff had shared her login credentials with Hiranandani and received gifts from him.

The Court meticulously analyzed the submissions from both parties and the evidence presented. It noted discrepancies between the plaintiff’s denial and the evidence provided by the defendants, including the plaintiff’s own public statements acknowledging her relationship with Hiranandani. Furthermore, the Ethics Committee’s report supported the allegations against the plaintiff, strengthening the defendants’ case. The Court emphasized the importance of truth in defamation cases and scrutinized the plaintiff’s failure to disclose relevant information in her pleadings. It also highlighted the seriousness of the allegations and the evidence supporting them, including Hiranandani’s affidavit and the Ethics Committee’s findings.

The Court remarked that “A perusal of the findings of the Ethics Committee Report of the Lok Sabha dated 09-11-2023 clearly substantiate the fact that (i) the plaintiff’s parliamentary login credentials were shared by her with Shri Darshan Hiranandani ; (ii) the said account was regularly and repeatedly accessed from outside India. This, coupled with the fact that that plaintiff publicly acknowledged receipt of certain gifts from Shri Darshan Hiranandani, as set out in paragraph 65 of the report of the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha, completely discredits the plaintiff’s “denial in toto” to the contents of the defendant no.2’s communication dated 14-10-2023.”

The Court further remarked that “In the present case, the matter acquires a completely different complexion on account of the aspects noted viz., (i) the omission on the part of the plaintiff to disclose in the plaint her dealings with Shri Darshan Hiranandani and/ or the background and rationale of sharing of her login credentials; (ii) the plaintiff’s own public statements/ admissions, as brought out by the defendants, regarding sharing of her login credentials with Shri Darshan Hiranandani and receipt of several gifts from him; (iii) the report of the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha; (iv) the affidavit of Shri Darshan Hiranandani himself, which has been placed on record in these proceedings, and which has also been copiously referred to in the report of the Ethics Committee of the Lok Sabha.”

After thorough consideration of the submissions and evidence, the court held that the plaintiff had failed to establish a case for the grant of an interim injunction against the defendants. It dismissed the plaintiff’s application, stating that the evidence presented by the defendants undermined the plaintiff’s denial and supported the allegations against her. The court clarified that its decision was based solely on the evidence before it and did not prejudice the rights and contentions of either party for the final disposal of the suit.

[Mahua Moitra v. Nishikant Dubey, 2024 SCC OnLine Del 1545, decided on 04-03-2024]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr. Samudra Sarangi, Ms. Shruti Raina, Ms. Saloni Jain, Ms. Nitya Jain and Mr. Akash Jaini, advocates for plaintiff

Mr. Abhimanyu Bhandari, Mr. Rishi K. Awasthi, Ms. Roohe Hina Dua, Ms. Shreya Arora and Mr. Avinash Ankit, Advs. for D-1. Mr. Sanjay Ghose, Sr. Adv. alongwith Mohd. Tasnimul Hassan, Mr. Siddharth Sharma, Mr. Martin G. George, Mr. Pulkit Agarwal, Mr. Rohan Mandal, Mr. K. P. Jayaram, Mr. Jai Anant D., Mr. Raghav Sehgal and Mr. Sagar Sharma, Advs. for D-2.

Image Source:

Jai Anant Dehadrai /

Mahua Moitra /

Dr. Nishikant Dubey / Instagram

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