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Bombay High Court grants interim relief to Indian Express in ₹100 crore defamation suit against online news portal

The respondents had allegedly published a defamatory report against Girish Kuber who is the Editor in Chief of Loksatta, the Marathi newspaper of Express group.

Justice Manish Pitale directed the defendants to delete, take down and remove the defaming news reports from their web page and social media platforms.

The Court also directed the website to refrain from republishing, reposting, uploading, forwarding and/or circulating the offending articles.

Indian Express moved the Court seeking ₹100 crore in damages after reports published by the defendants alleged that Kuber had attended a lunch with Maharashtra Deputy Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and had received a gift from Fadnavis.

The articles alleged that Kuber had compromised the principles of journalism.

The suit also made WhatsApp, Meta Platforms and Twitter as party to ensure compliance of court orders. 

Advocate Abhinav Chandrachud, appearing for Express Group, pointed out that other than claiming that Kuber’s action resulted in comprising the high standards of journalism, there was no other justification given in the articles. 

Justice Pitale observed that there was not even prima facie justification offered by the defendants for publishing the news reports in its e-paper. 

The court also did not find any details about the alleged compromise to the high standards of journalism due to Kuber’s actions. 

“According to defendant, merely because Kuber, who is an editor, attended an event hosted by the Deputy Chief Minister, it was enough to make such allegations against plaintiffs. It is also noted by this Court that no material is placed on record on behalf of defendants to indicate as to the nature of articles or other material allegedly brought into the public domain by the plaintiffs for benefiting the deputy Chief Minister or other politicians as a quid pro quo for having attended the aforesaid event. There does not appear to be any justification placed before this court.” the 12 page order recorded. 

Source: Barandbench

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