Ashok Arora files defamation suit against Dushyant Dave and other SCBA EC members
Ashok Arora files defamation suit against Dushyant Dave and other SCBA EC members
Litigation News

Ashok Arora files defamation suit against Dushyant Dave, other SCBA EC members: Delhi HC asks him to place "defamatory statements" on record

Shruti Mahajan

The Delhi High Court has asked Advocate Ashok Arora to place on record specific defamatory statements alleged to be made against him by the SCBA Executive Committee (EC) members after Arora filed a plaint for defamation.

A single Judge Bench of Justice Mukta Gupta who had earlier issued summons on Arora's plaint challenging his suspension from the post of Secretary of the SCBA, recently asked him why he had filed a separate suit alleging defamation.

Justice Mukta Gupta
Justice Mukta Gupta

Arora, in this fresh plaint, has claimed defamation and "mental torture" against him right from the time he was elected the Secretary of the SCBA. He made allegations against certain members of the Executive Committee of the SCBA for "mentally torturing" him from "Day 1" and said that he had been snubbed by the EC at the behest of SCBA President Dushyant Dave.

During the hearing, however, the Court asked Arora as to why he had filed a separate plaint considering the cause of action of this plaint is purportedly the same as that of the plaint filed by him earlier. Moreover, this subsequent plaint was filed by him without an application under Order 2 Rule 2 of CPC being moved.

Arora insisted that a separate plaint was required given that the relief for defamation cannot be claimed against the SCBA and the Bar Council of India that have been arrayed as parties in the previous suit. A suit for defamation can be filed against individuals and as such this separate suit was required to be filed.

During the hearing, the Court asked Arora to highlight the prima facie instances of defamation leading to the filing of this suit, however, Arora continued to list out events to show the rift between him and the rest of the EC, although the question from the Court as regards how these events constitute defamation persisted.

The Court said that while it is evident from the narration made by Arora that there was a difference of opinion between members of the EC with Arora's approach being more proactive and Dave at times believing some things needed to be boycotted, the same cannot be constituted to be defamation or mental torture, it was observed. Justice Gupta said,

"...it appears that there is a difference of opinion and a divide in the EC. You think one must be proactive and he may think that boycotting something is important...How can difference of opinion be said to be defamation or mental torture? ...If there is defamation found, you can claim damages for it in the previous suit."

Senior Counsel Arvind Nigam for Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave opposed the filing of this suit and said that the plaint was bereft of any merit. He argued,

"For defamation you don't need such a long plaint. There has to be specification of an incident of making statements that are known to be false to the defendant. If you read the plaint a little meaningfully, you will find it is bereft of merit."

The Court noted that after repeatedly asking about the details of alleged defamatory statements, Arora was able to read out all of one statement made by one individual which he claimed was defamatory. Therefore, Arora has been granted time by the Court to identify and place on record all the alleged defamatory statements made by each of the defendants arrayed as parties.

The case will be heard next in the third week of August.

Earlier, Arora had challenged his suspension from the post of Secretary of the SCBA through a suit filed on which Justice Gupta has issued summons. The defendants, that is, the SCBA and the BCI were required to file their written statements and the hearing, in that case, is expected to take place on August 6.

Earlier this year, Advocate Ashok Arora, who held the position of SCBA's Secretary had called for an Emergent General Meeting with the agenda point being to remove SCBA President Dushyant Dave from his position on account of Dave's allegedly using his post for "political agenda" activity.

On May 8, while Arora communicated to the members of the SCBA that the EGM was adjourned sine die and on the same day, the Executive Council of the SCBA resolved by majority to suspend Arora from the position of the Secretary with immediate effect.

Interestingly, the Bar Council of India (BCI) subsequently stayed the resolution passed by the Executive Committee (EC) of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) by which Advocate Ashok Arora was suspended from the post of Secretary.

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