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Can any Tom, Dick and Harry write anything against anybody on the Internet?: Delhi HC reserves order on Lakshmi Puri's plea against Saket Gokhale

ANI | Updated: Jul 08, 2021 17:52 IST

New Delhi [India], July 8 (ANI): Delhi High Court on Thursday reserved its order for July 13 on former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri's petition against activist Saket Gokhale over his tweets questioning the sources of income of the ex-envoy.
The High Court in its hearing asked whether any Tom, Dick and Harry could write anything vilificatory against anyone on the Internet to damage someone's reputation.
A bench of Justice C. Harishankar reserved the order during the course of hearing the submission of both sides.
During the Court of hearing, the Court asked advocate Sarim Naved, whether his client Gokhale was willing to remove tweets to which the advocate replied in the negative.
During the course of hearing, the Court called the tweets by Gokhale as "nonsense" and suggested he to remove it but Gokhale's counsel said his client has refused to delete it.
The court asked as to how you can be vilifying people like this. Thereafter, the court sought to know from Gokhale's counsel whether his client had approached any official authority or sought clarification from plaintiff before tweeting anything against Puri. The response of Gokhale was negative.
The court also sought to know whether the law permits a voter, who had a grievance against a retired public servant, to publish any accusation on social media platforms without taking any clarification.
The Court noted that Gokhale's lawyer had not been able to cite any judgment to support its claim, however, he has referred to Lok Prahari judgment.
Advocate Naved has apprised the Court according to Supreme Court judgment in Lok Prahari, assets of candidate and spouse should be a matter of public record.
Naved said that as a voter, he has to be satisfied that income is accounted for.
Unhappy with his response, the High Court said that Gokhale must go to the Election Commission for his satisfaction.

One must do a due diligence exercise before he throws mud at someone, the Court remarked.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Lakshmi Puri, told the High Court that Gokhale "has no decency." "We serve the government for more than 30 years and this is what we get," said Maninder Singh for Puri.
Lakshmi Puri has moved Delhi High Court against activist Saket Gokhale over his tweets questioning her sources of income.
Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Lakshmi Puri, told the Delhi High Court that absolute false statements are made by Gokhale and it is like "Ulta Chor Kotwal Ko Daante". He told the High Court that these people live on crowdfunding and therefore these kinds of acts are done to increase their crowdfunding. Singh also said she does not hold any public office so Gokhale can't encroach into her life.
He urged the Delhi High Court to direct the defamatory tweets to be removed and if Gokhale did not comply, then under Rule 3 of the new IT Rules, 2021, Twitter has to remove it from its platform. He said he has made out a prima facie case and there is conclusive evidence of defamation and harassment.
Singh said the declaration of assets should not invade the privacy of family members.
A suit has been filed by Karanjawala & Co., seeking a mandatory injunction, damages and costs along with interim reliefs on behalf of Lakshmi Murdeshwar Puri.
Arguments were advanced by Senior Advocate-Maninder Singh on behalf of Lakshmi M. Puri, who was briefed by a team from Karanjawala & Company comprising of Meghna Mishra- Partner along with advocates Dheeraj P Deo and Tarun Sharma.
Lakshmi Puri said that she was constrained to file the suit for Mandatory Injunction, Damages and Costs since Defendant inter alia on June 13, 2021 as well as June 23, 2021 in a series of tweets has made false and factually incorrect, per-se defamatory, slanderous and libelous statements about the Plaintiff.
The said series of tweets by the defendant are maliciously motivated and designed accordingly, laced with canards and entail deliberate twisting of facts thereby constituting fabricated falsehood - in order to cause irreversible damage to the reputation and irrevocable harm to the Plaintiff, read Puri's petition.
According to the petition, in a series of tweets dated 13.06.2021 and 23.06.2021, Defendant Gokhale has made a false and scurrilous allegation against Plaintiff Puri alongwith her husband have purchased a "house" in Geneva, Switzerland in the year 2006 with "black money".
Defendant, Gokhale, in one of his tweets has referred to "swiss bank accounts" and "foreign black money" and tagged the Union Finance Minister to order a money-laundering enquiry by the Enforcement Directorate on the Plaintiff and her husband, the petition said.
Puri has sought a decree of mandatory injunction directing Defendant to immediately take down the Tweets. She also sought a decree of damages of Rs 5,00,00,000 in her favour and against Defendant and further direct that the same be deposited in the Prime Minister's Citizen Assistance and Relief in Emergency Situations Fund. (ANI)