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Court orders YouTuber Gaurav Taneja to remove tweets mentioning Mint journalist Shephali Bhatt, rejects plea to gag legal news portals

Last week the court passed an order in favour of Taneja saying that piercing the ears of a girl child cannot be termed as child abuse, as alleged by the Mint journalist in an article

On Friday, the Delhi High Court ordered YouTuber Gaurav Taneja to take down all the tweets and social media posts he made tagging the Mint reporter named Shephali Bhatt. The Court was hearing Bhatt’s application amid an already pending suit filed by Taneja against Hindustan Times Media Limited – which owns financial daily Mint. The Court disallowed permission to the YouTuber to tag the journalist or use the hashtag of her name in any of his future social media posts.

However, the Court said that Taneja may repost his earlier tweets without naming, tagging, or hash-tagging the Mint journalist Shephali Bhatt. The Court also asked him to turn off comments and retweet features for any of the social media posts that he makes amid his ongoing suit against the Hindustan Times.

As the Court issued the direction, Taneja’s attorney Raghav Awasthi requested that legal websites, Bar and Bench and Live Law, refrain from posting anything relating to the proceedings. Taneja’s attempt to censor legal websites from reporting about the case, however, was denied by the bench.

Awasthi noted that all the legal websites were tweeting on the case and that their comments section were also open, then why only Taneja was disallowed from tweeting on the case? “This is a violation of my freedom of speech. Let me allow them to post without naming and tagging her. If I am not allowed then there should be a similar order against legal websites also,” Awasthi said on behalf of Taneja.

The Court responded by saying, “They are not parties here and I cannot pass a gag order against the media… Tell me how will you ensure there is no abusive post? Will you take responsibility if there is any abusive post? You take a guarantee that there will be no abusive post and I will not pass any order against you”.

Meanwhile, Bhatt also stated that she was not seeking any gag order against the legal media websites. She informed the Court that after the court awarded Taneja relief, he tweeted about it, naming her tweets and tagging her in tweets and that she received a lot of abuse and threats since then. Counsel for the journalist indicated that there are tweets in which her client has been named and tagged, which has resulted in some of Taneja’s followers making abusive statements or tweets against her.

As a result, the court ordered that he refrain from identifying or tagging her in tweets. As the Court heard the case, Awasthi stated that Taneja will erase any tweet in which the journalist was identified and tagged, as well as refrain from any future posts naming or tagging her.

Amid the controversy, Taneja had yesterday posted a tweet in which he requested all his fans to stop using unsavoury language against Shephali Bhatt. “I took up this fight against unethical practices and my rights were protected by Delhi HC. But my culture also teaches me to respect a woman. Request everyone to refrain from using unsavory language against Shephali Bhatt. I have my faith in the Judiciary”, Taneja tweeted.

Screenshot from Twitter

The case filed by Taneja against the journalist revolves around an article written by Bhatt and published by Mint claiming that Taneja was a child abuser. Bhatt had written an article titled, “Shouldn’t brands stop supporting sordid influencers?” in which she had criticized the YouTuber and his wife Ritu Rathee for piercing their elder daughter’s ears.

Taneja in his daily vlog had included the scene in which Ritu pierced their daughter Rasbhari aka Rashi’s ears while the daughter was seen wailing in pain. The Court last week passed an order in favour of Taneja saying that piercing the ears of a girl child cannot be termed as child abuse. It also asked the media house to take down the article.

The court also had said that it was a matter of debate if the journalist’s freedom extends to people reaching into someone’s house and making comments on their family. However, calling someone a child abuser without any proof was offensive. Justice Mridul said, “You don’t like what the people say or do, criticize them but don’t reach into their houses. According to us, that is offensive. Whether journalist freedom extends to that, we don’t know at this time. This has to be decided.”

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