The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued notice to a Hindi newspaper (Punjab Kesari) and others on a defamation suit filed by the former Indian cricketer and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir alleging that the newspaper “intentionally” published false and defamatory articles against him and used defamatory words. However, the Court refused to grant interim relief and said we did not pass any interim order in the matter today. Gambhir has sought ad-interim relief and also sought an unconditional written apology from the newspaper.
The court observed that public servants need not be so sensitive. Any public person should be thick-skinned. Nowadays judges should also be thick-skinned. The bench of Justice Chander Dhari Singh issued notice on the interim injunction application. During arguments, the court also observed that prima facie, the matter requires consideration. The court posted the matter for August before Joint Registrar and before the court in October month.
Appearing for the plaintiff, Gautam Gambhir’s Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai submitted that the defendants (newspaper and its representatives) are targeting him and there are over seven different articles. The lawyer took the court through the articles in question and said the articles are deeply malicious. He said that it seems that the publication has some kind of a mission to turn Gambhir’s reputation. Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao appeared for the defendant and submitted that the difficulty is there that Plaintiff decided to become an MP, he has decided to sail in two boats. The plaintiff is so touchy about Punjab Kesari, why is he not so touchy about other publications?
However, the defendant’s lawyer agreed that some words could have been better used in the article in question. Gambhir’s suit stated that the Punjab Kesari newspaper and its representatives have been intentionally publishing false and defamatory articles with a view to damaging the reputation of Gambhir from May 16, 2022, onwards.
Gambhir also sought the direction of the Court to pass a decree of mandatory injunction to the Defendants (Punjab Kesari and other representatives) “The Media Organisation has also been publishing defamatory statements regarding the plaintiff’s (Gautam Gambhir) Personal Secretary (PS) Gaurav Arora without any basis as such,” the suit stated.
The suit further said that a legal notice was also issued to the organisation on November 23, 2022, to cease and desist from making any defamatory publication against the plaintiff. However, no response has been received to the same by the Plaintiff till date. “Accordingly, the hard-earned reputation of the Gambhir is under threat,” it added.
According to the suit, the media house published incorrect and false articles intentionally to malign his image which stated that the former player is missing from his constituency ‘Gali-Gali Me Lage Poster’ and the MP can be seen occasionally only on the TV Screen. The suit stated that this malicious style of journalism has been done in stark disregard of the fact that the plaintiff was required to maintain this physical distance due to the safety regulations formulated for the Indian Premier League (“IPL”), of which he was a participant as the mentor for the team Lucknow Super Giants.
“Numerous malicious, libellous statements have been published, systemically targeting the plaintiff, and especially the plaintiff’s work as a parliamentarian. This has been done without any justification, and without indulging even in a single act of responsible journalism. Instead, the media organisation has only misused their freedom of speech and expression,” the suit said.