HC restrains 2 influencers from posting defamatory content against SII, Covishield
The Bombay High Court has restrained two social media influencers from posting defamatory content about Serum Institute of India, its CEO and their Covishield product in an interim application filed by SII in a defamation suit against the influencers. The court directed Yohan Tengra and Ambar Kori to remove the content from Twitter and YouTube. The SII claims the content posted by the duo about multiple deaths being due to the side effects of the vaccine was not only targeted at SII but also its CEO, and sought directions to Twitter and YouTube to take down defamatory content.
MUMBAI: The Bombay high court on Monday restrained two social media influencers from posting defamatory content against Serum Institute of India (SII), its chief executive officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla and their product, Covishield.
The order was passed in an interim application filed by SII in a ₹100-crore defamation suit against influencers—Yohan Tengra and Ambar Kori—for allegedly posting objectionable content regarding the Covishield vaccine manufactured by the firm.
Holding that the statements posted by the duo regarding the side effects of the vaccine were prima facie defamatory, a single judge bench of justice Riyaz Chagla directed them to take down the content they had posted on Twitter and YouTube.
Justice Riyaz Chagla had on February 13 reserved his order on the interim application, seeking an apology and injunction against Tengra and Kori from making misleading comments on the effects of the vaccine.
“Having considered the contents, the statements are prima facie defamatory...There is no justification (for making the comments). Defendants (Tengra, Koiri and others) are restrained from publishing defamatory content and are directed to remove the content published by them on websites or social media accounts,” the court said.
The court also declined to hear an application by Tengra and Koiri seeking directions against Poonawalla and other directors of SII for allegedly misleading the court by submitting false facts about the side effects of the vaccine in their affidavit.
The SII had approached the HC in October 2022 claiming that Tengra and Koiri had initiated a smear campaign against the firm. The suit also sought directions to Twitter and YouTube to take down the defamatory content and ensure that no such content was published in future.
The firm had claimed in its suit that the content posted by the individuals about the cause of multiple deaths being due to the side effects of the vaccine was not only targeted at SII but also Poonawalla as the posts termed them as criminals and murderers.
The advocates for the defendants had, however, argued that studies had shown that the vaccine increased the risk of death and cancer due to which 21 countries in Europe had banned its use, but the firm had failed to disclose this fact in its affidavit submitted in the HC.
The bench, however, ruled in favour of SII and imposed restraint on the activists.