Remain courteous: Delhi HC tells BharatPe, former MD Ashneer Grover following social media wrangling
In 2021, the court had issued summonses to Ashneer Grover, his wife and other defendants on the suit filed by BharatPe which has accused the couple of misappropriating funds
The Delhi High Court on Monday advised payment app BharatPe and its estranged co-founder Ashneer Grover to be courteous to each other even after their falling out.
Justice Navin Chawla, while hearing BharatPe’s lawsuit against Grover, its former MD, and his family members to restrain them from making allegedly defamatory statements, blamed social media for “bringing us down to this level” and asked the counsel for the parties to accordingly “advise” their respective clients.
While the senior lawyer for the plaintiff company alleged that in spite of the pendency of the case Grover continued to make objectionable statements, the latter’s lawyer said there is “slander and accusation and defamation from both sides” and claimed the other side even leaked information to the media.
“Social media has actually brought us down to this level. What are we doing here? Basically, it should be courtesy to each other... You have fallen out, fight your litigation,” the court remarked.
“Please advise him (Grover). If there is anything, you also tell Mr (Rajiv) Nayar (appearing for BharatPe) that his client has done this. He will also advise him,” the court told Grover’s lawyer. Grover’s counsel said he has filed an application to refer the matter for arbitration and claimed the lawsuit for alleged defamation could not have been filed by the company to espouse the cause of its officials when he has always praised the company.
Senior lawyer for the plaintiff sad the matter will be “tested in court” and Grover should exercise restraint.
The court granted time to Grover and other defendants to file their response in the matter and asked the plaintiff to consider creating a “confidentiality club” to allow them access to certain material.
Last year, the court had issued summonses to Ashneer Grover, his wife and other defendants on the suit filed by the fintech firm which has accused the couple of misappropriating funds. Grover had resigned from the company in March and his wife was removed from her post.
In the suit, besides seeking to restrain the defendants from making defamatory statements, the company has also sought direction for payment of over Rs 88.67 crore along with interest towards recovery of alleged misappropriated funds and damages caused to the reputation of the firm.
The plaintiff earlier claimed before the court that Grover, his wife and other relatives were carrying out a “vicious and vitriolic” campaign against the company which has a large number of foreign investors”.
Besides Grover and his wife, the company has arrayed as defendants -- Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain and Shwetank Jain, who all are relatives of the couple and were appointed to different posts in the company.
As an interim relief, the company has sought direction to the defendants to delete or remove within five days all statements made in tweets, social media posts, books, re-tweets, hashtags, videos, press conferences, interviews and comments made against the firm.
It also sought liberty to approach social media platforms, media houses, publications and others for deletion of such material.
The matter will be heard next on March 13.