Justice CV Bhadang of Bombay High Court, who heard the defamation case filed by actor Salman Khan, said on Thursday that he was unable to complete writing the judgment [Salman Khan & Ors. v. Ketan Kakkad & Ors.]
Consequently, the matter will have to be heard by a new judge since Justice Bhadang is set to retire from office on November 4, Friday.
Justice Bhadang had, on October 11, reserved his verdict on the appeal filed by Khan after hearing the matter at length.
He had then slated the same for pronouncement of judgment today.
Today, the judge informed the counsel that he has been unable to complete the judgment since he got occupied by some administrative work and other assignment.
"Inspite of best efforts and as the matter was heard at some length and the record comprises of several volumes, it was not possible to prepare / finalise the judgment, with only a day left at my disposal", the judge recorded in the order.
He, therefore, apologised to all the parties.
"Unfortunately I am unable to complete the judgement. I tried my level best till last evening also. But unfortunately there was vacation and then administrative work, and I had other assignments and I have only one day left. I will have to list this as not heard. I understand the apprehension of the parties and that substantial time and efforts went into this. I would have loved to decide this case either way. Unfortunately this came at the fag end of my career. I will list this as not heard and then this will come up for hearing post vacation" the judge said.
The dispute arose in 2021 when Khan filed a civil suit before the City Civil Court in Mumbai alleging that his neighbour Kakkad made false, disparaging and defamatory allegations in videos, posts and tweets causing harm to Khan, his family members and his business ventures.
Khan sought for injunctive reliefs against the defendants, which apart from Kakkad also included other individuals and social media giants like Facebook, Twitter, Google, YouTube and their Indian counterparts.
The urgent interim relief he sought was to restrain Kakkad from posting any more defamatory content against Khan, and for temporary blocking or suspension of his social media accounts.
This application for interim relief was rejected by the Mumbai court in March 2022. While doing so, the court had observed that there was documentary evidence to prove claims made against Khan relating to illegal encroachment and violation of the Forest Act.
Aggrieved by the order, Khan moved the High Court by way of the present appeal.
During the course of hearing, Senior Advocate Ravi Kadam, appearing for Khan, contended that the content posted against him, was not only defamatory but also communally provocative.
Meanwhile, Advocates Abha Singh and Aditya Pratap Singh for Kakkad claimed that his statements revolved around facts about Khan's property and hence did not amount to defamation.
Kadam was briefed by team from DSK Legal comprising of Managing Partner Anand Desai and partners Chandrima Mitra and Parag Khandhar, along with principal associate Prachi Garg.