April 20, 2024 In Uncategorized


A single Judge Bench of Delhi High Court comprising of Justice Neena Bansal Krishna passed an Order in Gaurav Bhatia v. Naveen Kumar and Ors. CS(OS) 274/2024 dated 16.04.2024, wherein the Hon’ble Court passed an interim injunction in favour of the Plaintiff to stop propagation of false news and posts made against the Plaintiff by the Defendants on their platforms.


Plaintiff is a Senior Advocate who has previously served as Honorary Secretary of the Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and has also served as National Spokesperson for the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) wherein he was responsible for representing the party’s opinions and conveying its policies and objectives to the general public. The Plaintiff filed a Civil Suit bearing no. CS(OS) 274/2024 and also filed an I.A bearing no. 7674/2024 under Order XXXIX Rules 1 & 2 r/w Section 151 of Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (Cases in which temporary injunction may be granted), (Injunction to restrain repetition or continuance of breach) and (Saving of inherent powers of Court) in the Delhi High Court.

By way of the present application, the Applicant/Plaintiff seeks ad interim ex parte injunction thereby directing the Defendant Nos. 14 and 15 to take down the posts/videos from several platforms and also ad interim ex parte injunction against the Defendant Nos. 1 to 13 thereby restraining all the Defendants, including their agents, representatives, associates, heirs, relatives etc., to cease and desist from posting any derogatory and harmful material on the social media platforms.

The Plaintiff claimed that defamatory videos posted on various social media platforms had received millions of views and thousands of likes from the public, indicating significant engagement and the possibility of significant harm to Plaintiff’s reputation, livelihood, and overall well-being as a result of the widespread dissemination of defamatory material on YouTube.

On 20.03.2024, despite the advocate’s strike, the Applicant/Plaintiff appeared in his robes in a Gautambudh Nagar court. Plaintiff claims that after learning that the Gautambudh Nagar Bar Association had called for a strike, the Plaintiff immediately consented to the matter being postponed. However, even after the postponement, he was physically assaulted by some local advocates and his Advocate’s Band was snatched and he was mishandled by other advocates.

Defendant No. 6 recorded the said incident and later posted it as a joke on online platforms which was later reposted and shared by thousand other people.

Plaintiff submitted that he had a good prima facie case in his favour and irreparable damage would be caused to him if the defamatory X posts/Tweets and YouTube videos were allowed to remain on the Internet.

Plaintiff claimed that the Supreme Court took suo motu cognizance of the incident and not only condemned the practice of lawyer strikes, but also took judicial notice of Plaintiff’s band being yanked. Plaintiff contended that objectionable YouTube videos and X posts/Tweets had been made public, which were completely false and untrue depicting that Plaintiff was beaten up by lawyers in the Court at Gautambudh Nagar, where Plaintiff had gone to represent Elvish Yadav, an infamous YouTuber accused of peddling snake poison at rave parties.

It was also represented in the videos/posts that Plaintiff deserved to be beaten because of his status as a BJP Member and Office Bearer, given the task of defending the parties in various TV debates, and that the legal fraternity despises Plaintiff’s alleged conceited attitude, which is why he was assaulted. Plaintiff was also treated to blatantly offensive language, which could result in an injunction, as well as several deepfake videos that could be removed.


I) Whether the Defendants were right in posting the incorrect and untrue posts and videos on their platforms?

II) Whether granting the interim injunction to the Plaintiff will violate the fundamental right of Freedom of Speech and Expression of the Defendants?

High Court’s views and decision

The Court opined that in the Suits of defamation against media platforms or Journalists, an additional consideration of balance between the Fundamental Right to Freedom of Speech with the Right to Reputation and Privacy, must be borne in mind. The constitutional mandate of protecting journalistic expression cannot be understated and the Courts must tread cautiously while granting interim injunctions.

The High Court relied on Bloomberg Television Production Services India (P) Ltd. v. Zed Entertainment Enterprises Ltd., 2024 SCC Online SC 426, in which the Hon’ble Supreme Court stated that the grant of a pre-trial injunction against the publication of an article may have severe ramifications on the Author’s right to Freedom of Speech and the public’s Right to Know. An injunction, especially ex parte, should not be granted unless it is established that the content sought to be stopped is malevolent or palpably false. The Court also cited Kartar Singh v. State of Punjab, 1956 SCC OnLine SC 36, which stated that “those who fill public positions must not be too thin-skinned in respect of references made upon them”

The Hon’ble Court was of the view that, a person’s individual dignity and honor could not be defamed or brought into shame or stigma on the basis of one’s right to free speech and expression. There is a narrow line between defamation and public criticism, and the Courts faced a difficult challenge in maintaining this delicate balance between competing claims and rights.

The High Court also held that while the press and media had a responsibility to inform the public about the tragedy, they also owed it to themselves to tell the truth about it. The deepfake films that purportedly showed the Plaintiff and his allegations being physically assaulted were nothing more than an exaggerated and inaccurate portrayal of facts. Therefore, the initial distribution or playing of deepfake films had not only damaged the Plaintiff’s reputation but also carried the ongoing risk of being aired and used against the Plaintiff at any point in the future. Such being the imminent threat of misuse of the videos in future, which were prima facie depicting Plaintiff in a light which might not be the true facts, was liable to be restrained from being kept in the public domain till the suit was finally decided.

Therefore, the High Court dismissed the application and ordered Defendants 6 to 13 to remove the X Posts/Tweets that had not yet been removed within seven days in accordance with the Intermediary Guidelines. Additionally, it was mandated that Defendant 14 turn the movies that were in the public domain private and that they not be returned there without the High Court’s orders.


The High Court in the above matter took consideration of an important factor related to an individual’s public image and the right of freedom of speech and expression of press and media. The High Court focused on the balance that has to be maintained between the two and also placed reliance on the duties of the media to furnish and propagate true facts and news on social media platforms.





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