Delhi HC directs AAP leaders to remove defamatory posts against LG Saxena
A single judge bench of justice Amit Bansal said prima facie statements, interviews, press conferences, tweets, re-tweets, and hashtags of Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Durgesh Pathak, Sanjay Singh, and Jasmine Shah were per se defamatory
The Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the ruling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and its five leaders to take down posts allegedly defaming lieutenant governor Vinai Kumar Saxena, saying that they have been made in a reckless manner without factual verification and to tarnish the reputation earned over years.
A single judge bench of justice Amit Bansal said prima facie statements, interviews, press conferences, tweets, re-tweets, and hashtags of Atishi, Saurabh Bharadwaj, Durgesh Pathak, Sanjay Singh, and Jasmine Shah were per se defamatory.
It said Saxena is a constitutional authority and cannot be subjected to personal attacks AAP leaders have subjected him to on social media.
“It cannot be gainsaid that reputation of a person is earned after years and the same cannot be tarnished by any other individual in a casual manner. The damage caused to the reputation of an individual is immediate and far-reaching on the internet. So long as the impugned content continues to be in circulation and visible on social media, it is likely to cause continuing damage to the reputation and image of the plaintiff,” said Bansal in a 13-page order.
The court directed the social media platforms to take down the posts in case the AAP leaders fail to comply with the direction within 48 hours.
The court said the balance of convenience is in favour of Saxena and against the AAP leaders. It added that “grave and irreparable harm and injury would be caused to the reputation of Saxena if the defamatory content continues to exist on the internet and the social media platforms and/or if the defendants are permitted to continue making defamatory statements of this nature against Saxena.”
The court said the AAP leaders have not even bothered to respond to Saxena’s legal notice dated September 5. “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.”
Saxena sought to restrain the AAP, Atishi, Bharadwaj, Pathak, Singh, and Shah and have them delete or take down the “false and libellous posts or tweets or videos circulated and issued on social media” while pressing civil defamation charges.
The AAP accused Saxena and his family of involvement in a ₹1400 crore scam during his tenure as the Khadi and Village Industries Commission (KVIC) chairman. It cited statements of two former KVIC employees and claimed Saxena’s daughter was given a contract against the rules.
Saxena sought ₹2 crore damages and told the court the AAP levelled the allegations as part of a carefully planned motive to divert the people’s attention from the action being taken against its senior leaders.