Delete Tweets Against Lakshmi Puri, Delhi HC Tells Saket Gokhale
The court restrained Gokhale from posting defamatory tweets about Lakshmi Puri or Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri.
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, 11 July, directed RTI activist Saket Gokhale to immediately delete his allegedly defamatory tweets about former Assistant-Secretary General at the United Nations Lakshmi Murudeshwar Puri.
Justice C Hari Shankar of the high court also asked Twitter to remove the contentious tweets, if Gokhale refrains from doing the same within 24 hours of the order, news agency PTI reported.
Further, the court restrained Gokhale from posting any “defamatory or scandalous or factually incorrect tweets” about Lakshmi Puri or her husband, Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, for the duration of the lawsuit.
Lakshmi Puri had lodged a case against transparency activist and investigator Saket Gokhale, for his allegedly slanderous tweets against the Puris' financial holdings.
What is the Case?
Gokhale, in his tweets June, had raised questions about the Puris' assets, alluding to a Switzerland estate that had been recently acquired by Puri. The activist had also tagged Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman in his tweets, calling for an investigation into the matter by the Enforcement Directorate (ED), as per an Indian Express report.
Lakshmi Puri, in her case against Gokhale, asserted that his tweets “maliciously motivated and designed accordingly, laced with canards and entail deliberate twisting of facts.”
She filed a plea seeking direction to Gokhale for the deletion of the tweets and Rs 5 crore in damages from him.
Labelling the activist as the “thekedar of taking replies from public offices,” Lakshmi Puri's legal counsellor, Senior Advocate Maninder Singh, had argued that Gokhale has no business to question the petitioner, in a hearing of the case on 8 July, The Indian Express reported.
The lawyer also furthered that Gokhale's tweets were a bid to boost his Twitter following.
Gokhale's questions were based on the election affidavit of the Union minister, which suggested that the Puris' property holdings were inconsistent with their income, Advocate Sarim Naved, appearing for Gokhale, informed the court.
He further argued that the Supreme Court has held that the assets of a electoral candidate and their spouse are a matter for public comment.
“How can you be vilifying people like this. Knock off these things from the website,” Justice C Hari Shanker had told Gokhale on Thursday, Indian Express reported.
“If you have a problem with the public functionaries, you must go to them first,” he had maintained.
Gokhale posted a suggestive verse on his Twitter page following the verdict on Tuesday.
(With inputs from PTI and The Indian Express)
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