Karnataka HC sets aside interim gag order granted in favour of Tejasvi Surya

Karnataka HC sets aside interim gag order granted in favour of Tejasvi Surya

Bar & Bench

The Karnataka High Court has reportedly set aside an order passed by the Bangalore City Civil Court granting an interim injunction in favour of BJP candidate Tejasvi Surya in the defamation case he filed against a host of media houses.

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice L Narayana Swamy and Justice PS Dinesh Kumar pronounced the order after reserving it yesterday.

Association for Democratic Reforms had filed an appeal in the Karnataka High Court against the the interim order granted by the civil court. The primary ground for challenge was that the order obstructs disclosure of complete information about a candidate contesting the upcoming elections. Tejasvi Surya is the BJP’s candidate for the South Bangalore constituency in the Lok Sabha elections.

After hearing the parties, the High Court noted that citizens have a right to know all information about contesting candidates. The Bench eventually held that if Surya were to be aggrieved by any defamatory news item, he would be at liberty to approach the Election Commission. The order states,

“The learned Trial Judge, by the impugned order has restrained the defendants from making ‘defamatory statements’ against the plaintiff. What is ‘defamatory’ can be tested and decided only if an act of making a statement or telecasting a program is challenged by the aggrieved person before an appropriate forum.

 Therefore, in our view, the defendants are not prevented from publishing or telecasting any news item which is not defamatory in their opinion. In case plaintiff is aggrieved by any such publication or telecast of any news item, he may approach the Election Commission of India.”

Thus, the Court disposed of the petition with this observation.

The petitioner organisation was represented by Samvad Partners, headed by Harish Narasappa. Senior Advocate Ashok Haranahalli appeared for Tejasvi Surya.

By an order passed on March 29, the civil court had passed an interim injunction against over forty media houses as well as social media platforms from publishing defamatory statements against Surya.

Surya had filed a defamation suit in the civil court after several publications carried news stories reporting allegations of abuse against him.

The articles were prompted by an exchange on Twitter between columnist Shefali Vaidya and one Dr. Som Dutta, who alleged that Surya was a “womaniser, abuser and woman beater”. Dr. Dutta has since deleted the tweets and deactivated her Twitter handle.

Surya thus sought a permanent injunction against the media houses to prevent them from publishing, telecasting, or distributing false and defamatory news relating to him directly or indirectly.

Read the order:

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