Court bars IGP Rath from posting 'defamatory' remarks on social media

File Pic of Basant Rath

A local court here on Saturday restrained Inspector General of Police (IGP) Basant Rath from making any “defamatory or derogatory remarks” on social media, against six persons who had sought court’s intervention in the matter.

The court passed the directions in a case filed by Parveen Kumar Mittal, Saurabh Dang, Rahul Bansal, Davinder Verma and Amit Kohli — all of them businessmen and Virender Dubey, a medical practitioner.

They demanded a decree of permanent prohibitory injunction, restraining Rath from posting any “defamatory, derogatory, libel or slanderous posts or material” on social media including twitter, Facebook, Instagram or any other platform with regard to them and a further decree in the nature of mandatory injunction directing Rath to withdraw the “defamatory posts he made on social media platform against them.”

After hearing advocate Pranav Kohli for the applicant, the 2nd additional munisff, Jammu, Jeewan Kumar Sharma, observed that the applicants alongwith their plaint have annexed a photocopy of various screenshots of the posts allegedly made by the defendant on social media platforms.

“The posts when read by a person of ordinary prudence, it does not disclose any thing which disrepute the character or image of the plaintiffs in the society but in the posts the names of the plaintiffs have been mentioned occasionally and connecting one “Dilloo” with the plaintiffs,” observed the court.

Kohli argued that the posts made by Rath also “amounts to innuendo” as the posts or statements made by him may seem to be innocent but because of “some latent or secondary meaning may be considered to be defamatory.”

Kohli also argued that the IGP in one of his post has connected one of the applicants, Dubey with a dairy farm Phallian Mandal, but the plaintiff was a doctor by profession.

Similarly, counsel for the plaintiffs referred to other posts connecting them.

“Under Article 19 of Constitution, freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right and as such the defendant being a citizen of India also has his fundamental right of freedom to speak and express but the right can be exercised within the four corners of the reasonable restrictions itself imposed by Article 19 and the posts made by the defendant should not be derogatory or defamatory with respect to the plaintiffs,” said the court.

It said although the alleged social media posts by Rath “seem to be innocent” but has been argued they have “secondary and latent meaning which is derogatory and defamatory against the plaintiffs.”

“It is the applicant who has to prove by way of evidence that the alleged posts of the defendant on social media are defamatory against him but at the same time Rath has a legal duty not to publish a post which is defamatory against the plaintiffs and if he is allowed to do so an irreparable loss shall be caused to the plaintiffs,” observed the court.

In the meanwhile, the court said, the IGP is directed not to publish any post or material by any means of communication which is defamatory or derogatory against the applicants and has an effect of “injuring the reputation” of the plaintiffs in the society, till the next date of hearing on July 25.

Rath has been placed under suspension by Union Home Ministry and he has been directed not to leave headquarters without permission from Director General of Police, Dilbag Singh.