The Delhi High Court on Wednesday issued summons to a Hindi daily and its reporters on a plea by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Gautam Gambhir seeking directions to the media house to withdraw certain articles published allegedly with “malicious, libellous statements” against him.
According to Mr. Gambhir’s petition, “...the defendant organisation, through its newspaper and its representatives, has been intentionally publishing false and defamatory articles with a view to damage the reputation of the plaintiff from May 16, 2022, onwards.”
In support of his arguments, the cricketer-turned-politician placed before the High Court over six newspaper articles published by the daily.
Mr. Gambhir’s counsel also said a legal notice was sent to the newspaper on November 23, 2022, asking it to cease and desist from any defamatory publication against the Lok Sabha member, but it did not respond.
Justice Chandra Dhari Singh said he was of “the prima facie opinion that many of these articles are indicative of wilful campaign launched by the defendants (the Hindi daily and four others including its three reporters) to lower the reputation of standing of the plaintiff in the eyes of his constituents, supporters and the public at large”.
“In the opinion of this court, this does not befit a newspaper of the repute and stature of the defendants to indulge in such a conduct. Let the plaint be registered as a suit. Issue summons,” the court ordered.
However, it declined the East Delhi MP’s interim plea for a direction to the media house to immediately withdraw the defamatory stories till the pendency of the suit.
As per the plea, the defendant is one of the most widely read Hindi newspapers, with presence in Delhi-NCR, Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Jammu & Kashmir and Punjab, etc. and a total average circulation of 3,42,795 per day in Delhi alone.
Mr. Gambhir has also sought ₹2 crore in damages which would be donated to charitable organisations identified by the plaintiff.