Bombay High Court: Interim Relief Granted To Indian Express In Rs.1 Crore Defamation Suit Against Website; Nothing To Show Journalism Standards Compromised

The Bombay High Court in the case The Indian Express (P) Ltd. & Anr. v. Unmesh Padmakar Gujarathi & Ors observed and has granted interim ad-interim relief to Indian Express Group wherein the court directed the e-paper Sprouts to remove alleged defamatory articles against the Girish Kuber, who is the editor of Express’ Marathi daily Loksatta.
The bench headed by Justice Manish Pitale in the case observed and has stated that no justification is given for the publication of articles wherein it is alleged that Kuber compromised high standards of journalism.
The court in the case observed that the said court find that there does not appear to be even prima facie justification offered by the said Defendants for publishing the said news reports/articles in its e-paper. Thus, although the reference is being made to the alleged compromise with the high standards of journalism due to the actions of the Plaintiff No. 2 (Girish Kuber), there are no details forthcoming and there does not appear any justification which has to be placed before this Court on behalf of the Defendant No. 1 and Defendant No. 2.
In the present case, the Indian Express has filed a defamation suit and seek damages for Rs. 100 Crore against Umesh Gujarathi and the King Branding Pvt Ltd for publishing the articles in Sprouts wherein it alleged that Kuber compromised journalistic principles.
The said court was dealing with Indian Express’ interim application in the suit filed wherein seeking for the ad-interim reliefs.
The court in the case observed and has granted an ad-interim order and has directed the defendants not to republish, repost, forward and circulate the alleged defamatory news articles or anything which contains the similar allegations.
However, the court observed that Indian Express added WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter as defendants to the suit in order to ensure compliance with court order. Therefore, it was conceded that it is difficult in order to ensure compliance from WhatsApp as it cannot control individual messages.
Further, the court in the case allowed the Indian Express for amending the cause title and include proper names and addresses of WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter.
It has also been opined by the said court that the articles in question are defamatory and if ad interim reliefs are not granted by the said court then Indian Express will continue to suffer grave and to the irreparable loss.
Therefore, the court in the case observed and has directed Gujarathi and King Branding for removing the alleged defamatory news reports from page, cache, and archives of Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, and any other social media platform or website.
The court in the case observed and has also restrained the Gujarathi and King Branding from republishing, reposting, uploading, forwarding and circulating the alleged defamatory news in its website, e-paper and their Facebook and Twitter accounts, and WhatsApp. Accordingly, the court while considering the facts and circumstances of the case observed and has directed the Facebook and Twitter to remove the URLs which contain the alleged defamatory news if Gujarathi and King Branding and for not complying with the aforementioned directions.
The court listed the matter to be next heard
on July 12, 2023.

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