The Madras High Court on Thursday, restrained DMK leader and Youth Welfare and Sports Development Minister, Udhayanidhi Stalin, from making defamatory allegations about former Chief Minister Edappadi K. Palaniswami being involved in corruption cases, and linking his name with the 2017 Kodanad heist-cum-murder case.
Justice R.N. Manjula granted the interim injunction for a period of two weeks pursuant to a civil suit for damages of ₹1.1 crore filed by Mr. Palaniswami, general secretary of the AIADMK and also the Leader of the Opposition. She also ordered a notice, returnable in a fortnight, to the Youth Welfare Minister.
Senior Counsel Vijay Narayan, representing the plaintiff, told the judge that Mr. Udhayanidhi was the son of Chief Minister M.K. Stalin and that a written statement issued by him on September 7 and circulated through his X (formerly Twitter) handle had given rise to a cause of action for the filing of the present suit. He said in the statement titled ‘Let Social Justice flourish forever,’ issued after a controversial speech on Sanatana Dharma at a public event on September 2, the Minister had insinuated that Mr. Palaniswami was involved in the Kodanad crime and that he was also facing a corruption case.
Mr. Narayan told the court that the plaintiff had absolutely nothing to do with the Kodanad crime and that he had not even been summoned once in connection with the ongoing investigation into the crime. Yet, the Minister had been making patently defamatory allegations damaging the reputation of the plaintiff, he complained.
Similarly, there was no corruption case pending against Mr. Palaniswami. Though DMK leader R.S. Bharathi had lodged a complaint of corruption regarding highway tenders during the AIADMK regime, even that did not culminate into the registration of a First Information Report, he said.
In such circumstances, the defamatory statements made by the Minister against the plaintiff had been circulated widely on social media and had been reported in the mainstream media too, causing irreparable damage to his reputation and hence there was an imminent need to grant an interim injuction, he added.
The senior counsel also pointed out that permitting the Minister to continue to make such allegations in an election year might end up causing great harm. Convinced with his submissions, the judge held that the balance of convenience was in favour of the plaintiff and hence the interim injunction must be granted.
However, before passing the interim order, when the judge wanted to know whether any lawyer had come to the court to represent the Minister, Mr. Narayan said: “Surprisingly, no one is appearing.”