Delhi High Court reserves order in Chief Secy Naresh Kumar's interim plea to remove defamatory article by 'The Wire'

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While reserving order in the application seeking an ad-interim injunction, the single-judge bench also issued summons in the suit

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday 'reserved order' in Delhi Chief Secretary Naresh Kumar's defamation case against a news portal, 'The Wire'.

The bench of Justice Sachin Datta reserved order in an interim plea seeking directions to The Wire to take down the article that allegedly casts aspersions on him in connection to the land acquisition by the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI) for the Dwarka Expressway project.

While reserving order in the application seeking ad-interim injunction, the single-judge bench also issued summons in the suit. 

Senior Advocate Maninder Singh for Kumar contended that as soon as the story was published on The Wire, social media got activated and tarnished his image. “You build a connection in your dream, and then you concoct everything. The article was published so that social media gets active to target my reputation. I am not a political person… He was instrumental in getting these inquiries in the excise policy done, and the Supreme Court has now said that there seems to be at least ₹350 crore bribe which the ED has been able to show in the excise scam. I do not want to say anything, but this seems to be one of the foundations for the article,” the senior counsel submitted.

On the contrary, Advocate Sarin Naved, appearing for the news portal, argued that the intention behind the article, which only raised a few questions, was not to defame Kumar in any manner. 

The Wire's report, titled 'Links of Son of Delhi Chief Secretary to Beneficiary's Family in Land Over-Valuation Case Raise Questions,' claimed that Kumar's son, Karan Chauhan, had connections with a family that benefited from increased compensation when a plot of land was acquired by NHAI for the Dwarka Expressway.

In addition to seeking the removal of the article, Kumar has requested the court to restrain The Wire and its reporter, Meetu Jain, from publishing any further defamatory content.

Kumar had previously issued a legal notice to The Wire and Meetu Jain, delivered through Advocate Bani Dikshit on November 13, demanding the removal of the article within 48 hours. The notice labeled the report as defamatory, false, baseless, and misleading. Kumar asserted that he proactively addressed the issue and ensured no wrongful loss to the public exchequer. He claimed credit for recommending the case's referral to the CBI on October 20, 2023.

The controversy surrounding Kumar intensified when Delhi's Vigilance Minister, Atishi, submitted a preliminary report to Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, alleging that Kumar benefited from a company linked to his son, yielding Rs. 897 crore in profits. Atishi recommended a CBI investigation and the suspension of Kumar and Divisional Commissioner Ashwani Kumar to prevent any influence on the probe.

Kejriwal forwarded the report to Lieutenant Governor (LG) VK Saxena, requesting Kumar's suspension and immediate removal as Chief Secretary. However, on November 17, Saxena rejected the report, noting its preconceived assumptions and potential interference with the ongoing investigation. Saxena emphasized that the matter is already before the Supreme Court and under CBI scrutiny, highlighting the leaked confidential report as an attempt to initiate a media trial.

Case Title: Shri Naresh Kumar v The Wire & Ors.