Delhi HC refuses to pass interim order on Gambhir's defamation suit against Punjab Kesari
Gambhir's advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai submitted before the court that the newspaper has been targeting Gambhir and that it is not the case of fair or objective reporting
The Delhi High Court on Wednesday refused to pass any interim injunction order in favour of former India cricketer and BJP MP Gautam Gambhir against Hindi daily Punjab Kesari seeking damages of Rs 2 crore.
Gambhir's advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai submitted before the court that the newspaper has been targeting Gambhir and that it is not the case of fair or objective reporting.
"The articles are deeply malicious. This is perhaps at the behest of someone else," he said. Even though it has been held in various judgments that the opinions and views of the concerned person must be taken before publishing any article, Gambhir's opinions were not sought by Punjab Kesari newspaper or its reporters, Dehadrai argued.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh, who was hearing the matter orally told Dehadrai: "You are a public servant, you need not be so sensitive." To which, the advocate said that it could possibly be that two reporters in the same style keep attacking me? "That he is busy with IPL, he is a useless politician who shouldn't be taken seriously. It's disturbing. Any innocent man's reputation is targeted in this fashion," Dehadrai said.
"Any public person should be thick skinned...Nowadays, judges should also be thick skinned," Justice Singh said.
The judge, saying that that prima facie it was satisfied that the matter requires consideration and summons must be issued against the defendants, issued notice on Gambhir's application seeking interim relief and listed it for hearing in October.
Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, who appeared for the newspaper and its editor in chief, was also told by Justice Singh that "if you read the articles, in the prima facie opinion, the reporter is behind this person. Some of the words and sentences that he has used are not proper for your publication".
Gambhir has taken legal action against the paper, its editor Aditya Chopra, and correspondents Amit Kumar and Imran Khan, alleging that they abused their journalistic freedom by publishing a series of malicious and defamatory articles specifically aimed at him.
He has referred to several reports as evidence to support his claim that the paper "distorted" its stories in a "misleading" manner. One of the reports even went as far as drawing a comparison between him and the mythical demon 'Bhasmasur', as argued in the lawsuit.
Gambhir asserted that these reports construct a fabricated and highly-damaging narrative about his performance and integrity as a parliamentarian, misleading the readers and tarnishing his reputation.
In the suit, it was highlighted that the reports unjustly depicted him as a person with casteist beliefs and as an arrogant politician."It is the respectful case of the plaintiff that the pattern of these defamatory publications is indicative of a willful campaign launched by the defendants to lower the reputation and standing of the plaintiff in the eyes of his constituents, supporters, and the public at large. The defendants undertook no effort to confirm or corroborate the veracity of their publication, which further points out their collective malaise against the plaintiff," the suit said.
Gambhir has demanded that a compensation of Rs 2 crore be awarded to charitable organisations as damages. Additionally, he has appealed for an unconditional apology from the defendants, which should be published in all newspapers, including digital versions, circulated by Punjab Kesari.
Furthermore, the cricketer-turned-politician has urged directives to be issued to the paper, mandating the retraction of every defamatory publication made against him.
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