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HC refuses to interfere with ex-parte interim order in defamation case by Delhi Minister Gahlot

New Delhi [India]: The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to interfere with its single judge bench order that refused to grant an ex-parte injunction in a defamation suit filed against BJP MLA Vijender Gupta by Delhi Minister Kailash Gahlot.

Gahlot had approached the Division Bench of the High Court challenging a single judge bench order that refused to grant an ex-parte injunction in a defamation suit filed against Gupta for allegedly making "a false statement of corruption in relation to the procurement of public buses".

Gupta's lawyer gave assurance to the court that his client will not tweet or issue any press statement related to the issue till September 20, the next date fixed for hearing.

With his assurance, a Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh disposed off the plea filed by Gahlot challenging the single judge's August 27 order refusing to pass an ex-parte order in the civil defamation suit.
However, the Division Bench clarified that no party will seek an adjournment and also urged the single judge not to grant an adjournment and proceed with the matter on the next date fixed for hearing.

While hearing the matter, the court remarked to Gahlot that in politics, "don't be so sensitive".
Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar represented Gahlot. Gupta was represented by Senior Advocate Ranjit Kumar.

A single bench of Justice Asha Menon had recently refused to grant an ex-parte injunction in the defamation complaint against Gupta for allegedly sharing posts on social media in connection with alleged irregularities in the procurement of 1,000 low-floor buses by the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC).

The court had said, "In the case, there were specific allegations made of some underhand dealing in the acquisition of some immovable property in Switzerland, whereas in the present case, prima facie, no personal allegations appear to have been specifically made against the plaintiff except to the extent of saying that the entire transaction appears to be a 'scam'. At this stage, therefore, no ex-parte injunction is called for."

Gahlot, who holds several portfolios in the Delhi Government including the Transport Department, had filed a petition seeking a decree of mandatory injunction directing Gupta to immediately delete, from his Twitter account all the tweets, posts made against him.

Gahlot also sought a mandatory injunction directing Gupta to immediately delete, from his Facebook Account all the defamatory posts made against him.

He also sought a permanent injunction restraining defendant Gupta from posting, tweeting, publishing any defamatory or scandalous or factually incorrect tweets or posts on his Twitter account, Facebook account or any social media account. Gahlot also sought a decree of damages for an amount of Rs 5 crore for "defaming him and causing loss to his reputation".

Gahlot alleged that without verifying facts, defendant Gupta had intentionally and with malice called him "corrupt" and "involved in open loot".

Senior counsel for Gahlot had submitted that as regards the purchase of 1000 low floor buses, the Lt. Governor of Delhi has formed an Independent Committee of three members. Gupta had also raised a starred question in the Delhi Legislative Assembly in the month of July 2021 seeking response and clarification on procurement and maintenance of the said buses.

Gahlot in his capacity as the Minister of Transport had also given replies to the said questions on the floor of the House. Senior counsel for the plaintiff submitted that "despite the above, Gupta continued with his defamatory tweets, posts, interviews, broadcasts and conferences against the plaintiff".

The plaintiff claimed that as per the information received from electronic and print media, the committee had observed that the allegations made by the defendant Gupta were untrue and unfounded.

Along with a civil defamation suit, Gahlot had also filed a criminal defamation case against Gupta in which a trial court has already taken the cognizance and is currently at the stage of examination of the complainant's pre-summoning evidence. (ANI)

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