New Delhi, Sept 3 (ILNS) The Delhi High Court today issued notice to Mr.
Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief & Chief Executive Officer of Zee Media
Corporation Ltd. and has directed both the parties to file their reply within three weeks and rejoinder, if any, within two weeks, in a defamation suit filed by South Africa based Indian Businessman Ajay Kumar Gupta.
The High Court refused to pass interim orders against Zee Media and Diligent Media Corporation Ltd to take-down/delete the publications/posts.
Justice Jayant Nath directed that prior to any further telecast by the Defendants, Zee Media and Diligent Media Corporation Ltd and DNA, the version of the Plaintiffs be taken and further directed that in respect of the said posts, the précis of the comments of the Plaintiff be also published by the defendants.
Mr Ajay Kumar Gupta, a businessman who originally hails from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh and he and his brothers have flourishing business in South Africa filed an urgent defamation suit before the Delhi High Court for defamation and permanent injunction against Zee Media and Diligent Media Corporation Ltd to take-down/delete the defamatory publications/posts against him.
The Suit was filed through his law firm Karanjawala & Co. for interim reliefs and to take down/delete the five broadcasts/publications on Zee Media and DNA and to take down/delete the posts forthwith.
Senior Advocates Mr Rajiv Nayyar and Mr Sidharth Bhatnagar, appearing for Mr Gupta alleged that the contents of the publications are per se defamatory and that an interim direction be passed to Zee Media/ DNA to take down/delete the posts forthwith. The petitioner further prayed for a restraint on further publications against him and his brothers.
Mr. Arvind Nayar, Sr. Advocate instructed by Ms. Ritwika Nanda & Ms. Petal Chandhok, Partners, Trust Legal appeared on behalf of Zee Media, Mr Sudhir Chaudhary and Diligent Media Corporation Ltd.
The suit and the interim reliefs were opposed by the Defendants on the ground of maintainability for lack of territorial jurisdiction of the High Court in the light of recent orders passed by in 2019 and 2020. It was further argued that the information related to the Plaintiff and his brothers are widely available in the public domain and further that the publications by Zee and DNA were not defamatory.
The brief facts of the case are that the Plaintiff- Ajay Kumar Gupta and his brothers, are reputable businessmen who have spread their businesses globally across sectors including Information Technology, Mining, Media, Energy, Computer Equipment, etc. Plaintiff is an Indian citizen.
According to the Plaintiff on July 14, 2021, Defendant No.2 (Mr. Sudhir Chaudhry), who hosts the prime-show ‘Daily News and Analysis’ (DNA) on Defendant No.1’s platform (Zee News) broadcasted a false, baseless, and highly defamatory episode about the Plaintiff and his brothers titled “DNA: What is the connection of South Africa riots to India Gupta
family?” The Broadcast was uploaded on their online platform and social media
accounts on July 14, 2021 and July 15, 2021 respectively.
In addition, Defendant No.3 (DNA India/Diligent Medial Corp. Ltd.) on July 16, 2021
published an article “DNA Explainer: What led to unrest in South Africa and role of
The petitioner alleged that the defendants tried to create a false impression that the Plaintiff and his family members are responsible for the ongoing riots, alleged attacks and looting of the people in the Republic of South Africa, without any basis, veracity or evidence.
Being aggrieved, Plaintiff issued a Legal Notice to the Defendants on July 19, 2021
stating that without any basis, veracity or evidence Defendants
broadcasted/published defamatory remarks/contents with a deliberate intention to
defame the Plaintiff, his family, and businesses. Plaintiff asked the Defendants to
take down the defamatory broadcast/public from their platform and social media
accounts within 48 hours of receipt of this notice, run an apology on the prime show
On July 22, and 23, 2021, Defendant No.1, 2 & 3 respectively sent their reply to
the Legal Notice however there was no satisfactory reply as to how the Plaintiff
incited the violence that is happening in the Republic of South Africa, the Plaintiff said.
Being aggrieved, the Plaintiff was constrained to file the present Suit on July 30, 2021
inter-alia praying for: a) decree of mandatory injunction directing the Defendants,
their affiliates etc. to immediately takedown/delete the broadcast/publication;
b) takedown/delete any further broadcast/publication containing same/similar false
c) restraining from further broadcasting/ publishing; d) run/publish
unconditional apology on their platform and social media accounts, and e) decree
for damages of Rs. 2,50,00,000/-.
Justice Jayant Nath by its Order dated August 02, 2021 issued summons to
the Defendants and directed them to give their comments to the defendants on the publications which are presently available on social media and they will publish a precise of the said comments on their social media platforms within five days of the receipt of the comments from the Plaintiff.
In compliance of the August 02, 2021 Order, the Plaintiff sent their comments on August 10, 2021 but the Defendants willfully disobeyed the Delhi High Court order and simply added a vague and imprecise comments to the existing defamatory posts.
Being aggrieved, the Plaintiff filed a Contempt Petition before the Delhi
High Court on August 28, 2021, which came up for hearing today before Justice Jayant Nath.
The Plaintiff/Petitioner is represented by Senior Advocate Mr. Siddharth Bhatnagar,
instructed by Mr. Debmalya Banerjee-Partner, Kartik Bhatnagar, Principal Associate
and Ujjwal Singh, Associate from Karanjawala & Co.
Senior Advocate Mr. Parag Tripathi, appeared for Respondent No.2 & 3.
The Court after hearing both the parties issued notice to Mr. Sudhir Chaudhary, Editor-in-Chief & Chief Executive Officer of Zee Media Corporation Ltd. and has directed them to file their reply within three weeks and rejoinder, if any, within two weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on October 5, 2021./ILNS/SNG