Delhi HC directs Cong leaders to remove posts on Irani, daughter

Updated on Jul 30, 2022 05:22 AM IST

If the Congress leaders do not delete the posts within 24 hours, the court said, social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, should take down the contentious material in view of the “grave injury” caused to Irani, the court added.

Union minister Smriti Irani filed a civil defamation suit through DSK legal in the high court seeking removal of their posts as an interim relief, besides damages to the tune of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>2 crore. (HT Photo)
Union minister Smriti Irani filed a civil defamation suit through DSK legal in the high court seeking removal of their posts as an interim relief, besides damages to the tune of 2 crore. (HT Photo)
By, New Delhi

The Delhi high court on Friday ordered Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera and Netta D’Souza to remove social media posts targeting Union minister Smriti Irani and her daughter over alleged ownership of an illegal bar in Goa, saying the accusations against the two are “prima facie scandalous” and were made without verifying facts.

If the Congress leaders do not delete the posts within 24 hours, the court said, social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, should take down the contentious material in view of the “grave injury” caused to Irani, the court added.

It also issued summons to the three leaders seeking their replies in the case.

“I am of the prima facie view that slanderous allegations were made against the plaintiff without verifying actual facts. Grave injury has been caused to the reputation of the plaintiff in view of the tweets and retweets carried out due to the press conference of the defendants,” directed the single bench of justice Mini Pushkarna.

The order said: “They (Congress leaders) are also directed to remove the post, videos, tweets, retweets, morphed pictures of plaintiff and her daughter along with the allegations and stop their re-circulation. If defendants 1-3 fail to comply with the directions within 24 hours of this order, defendants 4-6 (social media platforms) are directed to take down the material.” Appearing for Irani, senior advocate Pinky Anand contended that the remarks were a counterblast to the National Herald case. She also said that the Congress leaders have abused their right of free speech.

On July 23, the Congress leaders held a press conference levelling a series of allegations against Irani and her daughter regarding a statutory license in respect of food and beverages operations at a restaurant named Silly Souls Café and Bar, located in Assagao, Goa. They claimed that the bar, being operated allegedly illegally, was linked to Irani’s daughter.

However, the BJP leader hit back strongly, saying her daughter was targeted because of her (Irani’s) vocal stand on Sonia and Rahul Gandhi’s “ 5,000-crore loot” in the National Herald case — being investigated by the Enforcement Directorate (ED).

She also sent a legal notice to the Congress leaders on July 24.

On July 27, Irani filed a civil defamation suit through DSK legal in the high court seeking removal of their posts as an interim relief, besides damages to the tune of 2 crore.

Admitting her suit, the high court on Friday served summons to the Congress leaders, and issued the interim directives on taking down of the posts after noting that Irani has made out a “prima facie” case in her favour.

“The balance of convenience lies in favour of the plaintiff (Irani) and against the defendants (Ramesh, Khera and D’souza). I deem it proper to pass an interim injunction directing defendants 1 to 3 (Congress leaders) to delete and remove the allegations made during the press conference from all social media platforms including YouTube, Facebook and Twitter,” the judge said.

The court posted the matter for hearing on August 18 .

In response to the summons, Ramesh wrote on Twitter: “The Delhi high court has issued notice asking us to formally reply to the case filed by Smriti Irani. We look forward to presenting the facts before the court. We will challenge and disprove the spin being put out by Ms Irani.”

In her suit, Irani stated that the Congress leaders “conspired to launch a tirade of false, scathing and belligerent personal attacks” against her and her daughter with the common motive to malign, defame and injure her and her daughter’s reputation, moral character and public image.

It alleged that despite being fully aware of the fact that Irani and her daughter are neither owner(s) of the premises or said restaurant, nor have they applied for any license in relation to the restaurant, the Congress leaders deliberately made various defamatory statements imputing the character of the applicant and her daughter going to the extent of “maliciously peddling lies”.

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    Reports from the Delhi High Court and stories on legal developments in the city. Avid mountain lover, cooking and playing with birds 🐦 when not at work

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