Delhi High Court on Monday directed Congress supporter Saket Gokhale to take down the defamatory tweets casting aspersions of impropriety against ex-IFS officer Lakshmi Puri for her house in Switzerland. The court has also restrained him from posting further such tweets in future. Further, Justice Harishankar has also directed Twitter to take down his tweets should Gokhale fail to delete them within 24 hours of pronouncement of the order.
Earlier, the High Court had come down heavily on Gokhale for putting out allegedly defamatory tweets against former diplomat Puri without due diligence. Puri, though her lawyer, had also described Gokhale’s crowdfunding modus operandi where he seeks funds from people on social media to ‘fight the good fight’.
Her lawyer Singh said this is a new way to earn money, a new business method to first embarrass and harass somebody who’s retired after serving for years. “When when he gets a notice, he says, “Oh, oh, you’re intimidating me.” New business model. Our prayer is he has to remove this defamatory material,” Advocate Maninder Singh said on Gokhale’s ‘crowdfunding’ initiatives.
Coming down heavily on Gokhale, the court had asked, “So any Tom, Dick and Harry can write anything vilification against anyone on the internet”. Saket Gokhale claimed that he had a right to know information as a voter, to which the court asked him to go to the Election Commission to be satisfied. “Before you throw mud at someone, you must do a due diligence exercise,” pointed out High Court.
Former Indian Diplomat Lakshmi Puri, the wife of Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, had sent a legal notice to Gokhale for his posts on Twitter casting aspersions that the couple had undisclosed income through which they purchased property in Switzerland. Lakshmi M Puri had earlier slammed Saket Gokhale for creating a mischievous Twitter thread filled with baseless allegations against her.
Subsequently, Puri sent a legal notice to Gokhale and sought an apology for the same. However, after the hearing last week, Gokhale had brazened it out and claimed he will not voluntarily take down his tweets.
The court remarked that the right to reputation is a protected fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution of India, the court had said that while it is not restraining Gokhale or any other citizen to comment on public servant or retired public servant, the law did not permit any person aggrieved by retired public servant’s or officer’s declaration of assets to publish allegations without seeking clarification from the person or approaching authorities.