Use of “Congi” for “Congress” not defamatory, Subramanian Swamy defends tweets on National Herald

Use of “Congi” for “Congress” not defamatory, Subramanian Swamy defends tweets on National Herald

Shruti Mahajan

The Patiala House Court today reserved its order in the application filed against Subramanian Swamy seeking a restraint on him publishing his opinion on social media in the National Herald Case.

Swamy filed his reply in this application before the Court and made his submissions challenging the admissibility of the Tweets, allegedly published by him, under the Indian Evidence Act.

Swamy claimed that the said tweets did not count as evidence and also argued on the merits of the application.

It was Swamy’s case that while he has a right to tweet, there have also been precedents where similar injunctions sought were not entertained by the Courts.

“I have a right to tweet, there is no doubt about that. But the evidence submitted is not evidence at all under the Evidence Act”, submitted Swamy.

One of the cases cited by Swamy to buttress his point was the injunction sought by Shashi Tharoor against Arnab Goswami’s channel Republic TV and the reportage of the case concerning Sunanda Pushkar’s death. Swamy pointed out that the Delhi High Court had refused to grant the injunction in the said case.

Further, Swamy also argued that the Indian Courts follow the system of open courts and such an injunction would go against this principle and backed his argument by citing the recent Supreme Court judgment allowing live streaming of cases of national importance.

Senior Advocate RS Cheema countered Swamy’s arguments on the ground that the case was not at the stage of defence evidence but the simple point was that Swamy’s tweets were forming an obstacle in the way of the lawyers carrying out their work.

Cheema also posed a severe objection to Swamy’s usage of terms like “Congi lawyers” in his tweets which were found to be objectionable to the lawyers. He claimed that Swamy was not permitting a fair trial to be carried out.

Swamy submitted that “usage of the term “Congi”, is not defamatory, it’s just short for Congress”.

“I am a lawyer and do not belong to any party and cannot be called a party-man”, responded Cheema.

While the Court reserved its order in this application, the next date for hearing in the main case of National Herald has been set for November 17 when Subramanian Swamy will be cross-examined.

Earlier this month, Congress leader Motilal Vohra had urged the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal to restrain Swamy from sharing his opinions concerning the National Herald case on social media.

Senior Advocate Cheema, appearing for Vohra, had argued before the Court that Swamy’s taking to social media to discuss the case amounted to “influencing the outcome of the complaint.”

The private complaint filed by Swamy accuses Congress President Rahul Gandhi, Sonia Gandhi, Oscar Fernandes, Motilal Vohra, Sam Pitroda as well as ‘Young India’, owned by the Gandhi family, of criminal breach and misappropriation of property.

Swamy’s conduct during the pendency of the case was said to be leading to “character assassination” of the accused, according to Cheema. He had submitted that this case “was being fought on social media and not in Court”.

During the previous hearing, Cheema had highlighted before the Court the kind of content that was published by Swamy on social media platform and urged that there needed to be a restraint on it.

Read full thread on today’s hearing here.

Bar and Bench - Indian Legal news