Twitter celebrity Sameet Thakkar has appealed to the division bench of the Delhi High Court against the interim order passed by a single bench last week directing him to take down his tweets against the TV Today network.
On November 18, a single bench of Justice Mukta Gupta had passed an interim order directing Thakkar to take down within 48 hours the tweets made by him against TV Today network, which runs the channels India Today and Aaj Tak. On the failure of Thakkar to do so, Twitter was directed to remove the tweets within 72 hours.
The order was passed in a suit filed by TV Today Network alleging that Thakkar's tweets were defamatory. The plaintiff had sought the removal of 29 sets of URLs.
In the appeal filed against the order, Thakkar has contended that the single bench has overstepped the jurisdiction for interim relief by passing a "blanket order" which in effect amounts to granting the final relief.
The appeal filed through Advocates Pratyush Prasanna and Snigdha Singh states that Thakkar intends to plead the defence of truth in the defamation suit. However, the interim order has frustrated his defence and has deprived him of the opportunity to contest the suit, states the appeal.
"Ld. Single Judge despite being vehemently apprised of the core defense of truth being pleaded in the Written Statement including the above mentioned I.As, Ld. Single Judge passed a blanket order depriving the Appellant of its valuable right to contest the suit and prove the same in trial", reads the appeal.
A division bench headed by Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad will hear the appeal on Monday, November 23.
Nagpur-resident Thakkar came in news recently after the Maharashtra police arrested him on October 24 over his tweets against Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray and State Minister Aditya Thackarey. The Maharashtra police had arrested him three times in different cases registered over his social media posts.
Last week, he had filed a habeas corpus petition in the Supreme Court contending that his arrest and custody were politically motivated to suppress online dissent against the Maharashtra government.
The Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea asking him to avail alternate legal remedies.
He was released from custody on November 17, after a Mumbai court granted him bail in the third FIR. Earlier, he was granted bail in the other two cases registered against him.
Background of TV Today's case against Thakkar
The allegations of the Plaintiff was that the Defendant No.1 (Sameet Thakkar) had, on 15th April, 2020, during the lockdown period, published 35 tweets on his Twitter handle at one go, making various allegations against the Plaintiff (T.V. Today Network Limited), and its top management.
Court's May 06th Order
In this backdrop, the Delhi High Court, in its 06th May Order, had observed,
"The tweets make wild allegations and also use derogatory and defamatory language against the Plaintiff, its management and its employees. The tweets are also very offensive and some contain abusive language. Such a campaign against the Plaintiff, its management and employees can be extremely damaging to their reputation and also cause personal injury to them and their family members. The tweets are in bad taste and use objectionable language including abuses."
Further, the Court had opined,
"This Court is of the opinion that a prima facie case is made out for grant of interim relief to protect the Plaintiff until the Defendant enters appearance in the matter. Balance of inconvenience is also in favour of the Plaintiff and irreparable injury could be caused to the reputation of the Plaintiff which is a well established media company as also its management and employees if protection is not granted."
Lastly, the Court had directed Defendant No.1 (Sameet Thakkar),
"To restrain from publishing any defamatory or derogatory posts/tweets or making abusive remarks against the Plaintiff, its management, employees including news anchors and their family members either through his Twitter handle or on any other social media platform or any other print/electronic medium."
In the order passed on November 18, the Court directed :
"Defendant No. 1 is directed to take down the said ULRs from its Twitter account within 48 hours of the receipt of copy of such replication from the learned counsel for the plaintiff, failing which the plaintiff would write a letter to the learned counsel for the defendant No. 3 (Twitter) giving the specified 29 sets of ULRs as provided in Para 11 of the replication, which the defendant No. 3 (Twitter) will take down within 72 hours thereafter."