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Delhi HC directs Saket Gokhale to remove tweets against Lakshmi Puri

By Amiya Kumar Kushwaha | Updated: Jul 13, 2021 14:26 IST

New Delhi [India], July 13 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Tuesday directed activist Saket Gokhale to delete all tweets against former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Lakshmi Puri. The HC further said that if Gokhale does not delete the tweets, then Twitter is directed to take down those URLs.
A bench of Justice C. Harishankar also issued summons in the main suit, asking Gokhale to file a reply within four weeks. The HC directed Puri to file counter and listed the matter for September 10 before the Registrar (Judicial).
The Court said that the defendant Saket Gokhale is directed to immediately delete, from his Twitter account, all Tweets against the plaintiff Puri, to which the present plaint makes reference, as well as all connected Tweets which may form part of the trail of Tweets by the defendant against the plaintiff.
The Court also restrained Gokhale, pending further orders of this Court, from posting any defamatory or scandalous or factually incorrect Tweet, on his Twitter account, against the plaintiff Puri or her husband.
The Court also clarified that if Gokhale failed to comply with direction then within 24 hours of the pronouncement of this order, Twitter, Inc. is directed to take down the tweets figuring from its URLs, as well as all tweets which may figure in the trail thereof.
The Court said that let a copy of the order be forwarded to Twitter forthwith, to ensure compliance and the defendant Twitter is also directed to file a compliance report before this Court before the next date of hearing.
"It is an unfortunate truism, of human nature - which forms subject matter of philosophical debate since ages - that we prefer brickbats to bouquets. Criticism always makes for better press than praise, and the more vitriolic the criticism, the better. The exponential fashion in which social media platforms have evolved, has provided fertile soil for the growth and mushrooming of this unfortunate human tendency, " the Court said.
"Social media, for all its unquestionable and undeniable benefits, as well as its indispensability in modern times, comes with its own sordid sequelae. The present instance appears to be a case in point."
The Court also said that reputations, nourished and nurtured over years of selfless service and toil, may crumble in an instant; one thoughtless barb is sufficient.
"In the age of social media, desecration of the reputation of a public figure has become child's play. All that is needed is the opening of a social media account and, thereafter, the posting of messages on the account. Thousands of responses are received and, in the process, the reputation of the man, who is targeted, becomes mud," the Court said.
Delhi High Court on last 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 had asked whether any Tom, Dick and Harry could write anything vilificatory against anyone on the Internet to damage someone's reputation.
During the course of the 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 the hearing, the Court called the tweets by Gokhale "nonsense" and suggested he remove them but Gokhale's counsel said his client has refused to delete them.
Senior advocate Maninder Singh, appearing for Lakshmi Puri, had 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 while advancing the argument.
Puri has moved Delhi High Court against activist Gokhale over his tweets questioning her sources of income.
She 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.
Singh said he has made out a prima facie case and there is conclusive evidence of defamation and harassment.
Singh also said the declaration of assets should not invade the privacy of family members.
Arguments were advanced by Maninder Singh on behalf of Puri, who was briefed by a team from Karanjawala & Company comprising of Meghna Mishra- Partner along with advocates Dheeraj P Deo and Tarun Sharma.
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.
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 along with 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)