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The Delhi High Court has issued notice in a suit by sanitaryware company, HSIL Ltd against ICICI Securities, seeking Rs 2.5 crore as damages for an allegedly false report. (HSIL vs ICICI Securities)
Notice was issued to ICIC Securities and other Defendants by single Judge Bench of Justice Jayant Nath.
HSIL (Plaintiff) filed the suit on account of a “highly defamatory, libellous, false, disparaging and malicious” Report published by ICICI Securities, tiltled ‘Jaquar pips HSIL; becomes India’s No.1 sanitaryware brand’.
In its suit filed through Advocates Manav Gupta and Prabhsahay Kaur, the Plaintiff has contended that the Report, which is intended to be read by the public and is widely publicized, is based on complete falsehood and substantially lowers and damages the reputation and goodwill of the Plaintiff.
The Report, inter alia, has claimed that the Plaintiff has lost its market share and was “amongst the most notable losers in the last fiscal”.
The Report was published on LinkedIn and was also circulated to several retailers, clients etc.
The Plaintiff has submitted that given the fact that its Annual Report for Financial Year 19-20 had not been filed till date or even finalized, the "ostensible comparison" of the Plaintiff with its competitor was based on complete falsehood and malice.
The Plaintiff has argued that the Report does not convey a mere opinion or future projection but states its content as a fact, making it “downright unethical and fraudulent”.
It is argued that the Report is thus in violation of SEBI (Prohibition of Fraudulent and Unfair Trade Practices relating to Securities Market) Regulations, 2003 and SEBI (Research Analysts) Regulations, 2014.
After the notice was issued, with a view to bring quietus to the matter, ICICI Securities and other related Defendants agreed to delete the Report from LinkedIn and also issue a communication to all the parties to whom the Report was addressed, clarifying that a second Report had been launched.
The arrangement was made without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the Defendants and without, in any manner, admitting any of the allegations made by the Plaintiff.
The matter would be heard next on July 22.
The Defendants were represented by Advocates Sanjeev Kapoor and Kapil Wadhwa.
Read the Orders: