Delhi High Court directs YouTuber Gaurav Taneja to remove tweets naming, tagging Mint journalist; refuses to gag legal websites

Taneja's counsel sought a gag order against Bar and Bench and Live Law but the relief was denied by the Court stating that it will not pass any order against media, particularly since they are not party to the case.
Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court on Friday directed YouTuber Gaurav Taneja (Flying Beast) to remove his tweets in which he had named, tagged or hash-tagged Mint journalist Shephali Bhatt in relation to a favourable order secured by him against Bhatt last week.

Single-judge Justice Amit Bansal also directed Taneja not to name her in any of his future twitter posts and to disable comment and retweet features in any future posts that he makes on his ongoing suit against Hindustan Times Media Limited – which owns financial daily Mint.

The Court said that Taneja will be at liberty to repost his earlier tweets without naming, tagging or hash-tagging Bhatt.

The Court, however, rejected the request by Taneja to gag legal websites Bar and Bench and Live Law in relation to the case.

As the Court passed the order, advocate Raghav Awasthi, appearing for Taneja, sought a direction against legal websites, Bar and Bench and Live Law to not post anything related to the proceedings.

“All the legal websites are tweeting it. I can see two of the journalists logged into proceedings as well. If all the legal websites are reporting and their comments are open then why only me… This is a violation of my freedom of speech. Let me allow to post without naming and tagging her. If I am not allowed then there should be a similar order against legal websites also,” Awasthi said.

The Court, however, refused the relief.

“They are not parties here and I cannot pass a gag order against the media… Tell me how will you ensure there is no abusive post? Will you take responsibility if there is any abusive post? You take a guarantee that there will be no abusive post and I will not pass any order against you,” the judge said.

Bhatt's counsel also submitted that she was not seeking any gag order against the media.

The Court was dealing with an application by Bhatt in Taneja’s already pending suit against HT Media (Mint) seeking removal of the defamatory article that the newspaper printed against him.

The Court had earlier directed Mint to take down the article against Taneja.

Bhatt told the Court that when it granted relief to Taneja, he tweeted the same and named her tweets and tagged her in his and since then, she has been facing a lot of abuse and threats.

Counsel, appearing for the journalist, further stated that there are tweets where her client has been named and tagged which has resulted in several followers of Taneja making abusive posts or tweets against her.

She, therefore, demanded that he should not post tweets naming or tagging her.

As the Court heard the matter, Awasthi said that Taneja will remove all tweets where the journalist has been named and tagged and will not put any future post naming or tagging her either.

Background

The dispute in the suit relates to an article published in the Mint titled “Shouldn’t brands stop supporting sordid influencers?

The article raising allegations of child abuse by Taneja and Rathee was published by Mint on May 8, taking exception to a video put out by Taneja on his social media handles in which he was seen piercing the elder daughter's ears.

The article in Mint also highlighted a video put out by Taneja and it said that "he is filming Ritu piercing their elder daughter's ears and when the daughter asks him not to "vlog" it, he says, "why not!" The 10-minute video then goes on to show the daughter howling and writhing in pain while the camera zooms in on her."

The Court passed an order in favour of Taneja, holding that piercing the ears of a girl child cannot be termed as child abuse.

It had, therefore, directed Mint to take down the article.

Justice Amit Bansal besides ordering take down of the article also had restrained Mint, its journalist Shephali Bhatt and editor-chief Shruthijith KK from posting, circulating or publishing the article on any online or offline platform.

The Court had also directed journalist Abhishek Baxi to take down his tweet regarding the article and to refrain from posting, circulating or publishing any similar defamatory content against Taneja and his wife on any social media or online/offline platform.

Advocates Swathi Sukumar and Naveen Nagarjuna appeared for Bhatt.

Taneja was represented through advocates Raghav Awasthi and Mukesh Sharma.

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