NEW DELHI: Yesterday, Delhi High Court rejected a suit filed by the famous Youtuber Gaurav Taneja (Flying Beast) and his wife Ritu Rathee which sought a permanent injunction against the financial newspaper Mint to take down an allegedly defamatory article against the Couple.
The Bench headed by Civil judge Anurag Chhabra rejected the suit noting that the couple, had not mentioned the portions of the said articles which are allegedly defamatory against them, Neither, plaint did not disclose any cause of action and that before passing any order for permanent injunction, it is necessary to adjudicate whether the articles are actually defamatory in nature or not.
“The court is of the opinion that the plaint does not disclose the cause of action as the plaintiffs have not sought the relief of declaration from the court and the relief of mandatory and permanent injunction sought by the plaintiffs are dependent upon the adjudication of the aspect whether the said articles are defamatory in nature or not,” read the court’s order.
The couple approached the court after an article was published in the Mint Newspaper on May 8, 2022, by its senior assistant editor Shephali Bhatt.
The article titled “Shouldn’t brands stop supporting sordid influencers?” was based on a picture and caption of a housewarming havan tweeted by Taneja. The picture of the couple and their younger daughter performing the pooja.
The tweet read, “Hinduism is a science-based way of life” and that on December 3, 1984, two families remained unaffected by the Bhopal Gas leak because they were performing havan.
“They performed regular अग्निहोत्र (havan), which is a natural antidote to pollution,” the tweet claimed.
In their suit, the couple alleged that Mint Newspaper had posted the article on her own Twitter and Linkedin accounts with the clear intention of defamation.
However, counsel appearing for Mint and Bhatt pointed out that the plaintiffs have not sought a declaration from the court that the articles were defamatory. Later, it was argued that unless the plaintiffs prove that the alleged articles were defamatory in the first place, the Court cannot presume it to be so.
Further, they claimed that the opinion expressed in the articles is based on truth.
In his order, Judge Chhabra concurred with the arguments raised on behalf of the defendants as the plaint did not mention the portions of the article which are alleged defamatory in nature.
“The plaintiffs have merely stated that the said articles are defamatory in nature qua the plaintiffs. It is not in dispute that fundamental right curtailed in Section 19 of the Constitution of India is not unrestricted. However, the plaintiffs shall prove before the court that the said articles are defamatory in nature and only then Article 19 (2) comes into the picture. Moreover, it is difficult to segregate the private life of the public figures from their public life,” read the court’s order.