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Delhi HC orders TMC MP Saket Gokhale to pay Rs 50 lakh to former diplomat Lakshmi Puri in a defamation case, orders to issue a public apology

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani stated that the order must be executed within eight weeks. Justice Bhambhani also directed Gokhale to put out an apology in the Times of India newspaper.

On Monday (1st July), the Delhi High Court ordered Trinamool Congress leader and Rajya Sabha MP Saket Gokhale to pay Rs 50 lakh in damages to former diplomat Lakshmi Puri in a defamation case. The court also directed Gokhale to issue a public apology on social media that must remain on his profile for a minimum of six months.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani stated that the order must be executed within eight weeks. Justice Bhambhani also directed Gokhale to put out an apology in the Times of India newspaper.

The Court underlined the significance of protecting people’s integrity and dignity in public life. The court deemed Gokhale’s comments to be baseless and made with the malicious intention of tarnishing Lakshmi Puri’s reputation.

“The defendant has not only failed to substantiate his claims with credible evidence but has also shown a reckless disregard for the truth. Such conduct is unacceptable, especially from a public figure,” the judge said.

This verdict follows a defamation lawsuit filed by former Indian Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations Lakshmi Puri against Saket Gokhale for publishing defamatory posts about her on social media.

The defamation case originates from X posts published by Saket Gokhale on the 13th and 26th of June 2021. In these posts, Gokhale claimed that Lakshmi Puri had bought property in Switzerland that was disproportionate to her income. Gokhale also named her husband, Hardeep Singh Puri, the Union Minister of Petroleum and Natural Gas.

In July 2021, a coordinate bench ruled in Puri’s favour when it decided the suit’s interim injunction application in the case. The court subsequently ordered Gokhale to remove the tweets in question within 24 hours. He was also prohibited from posting any more derogatory statements about Puri.

Back then, Gokhale voluntarily deleted the posts where he made unfounded allegations against Lakshmi Puri, wife of Union Minister Hardeep Singh Puri. This came after Saket Gokhale had told the Court that he would not voluntarily delete the thread.

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