“Will not hesitate in imposing injunction”: Delhi HC cautions Mahua Moitra in Jai Dehadrai defamation case

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The Court emphasized that calling someone a lunatic is clearly libelous and therefore Moitra must be careful. If Dehadrai persists with false statements, he will also face consequences.

The Court, in a defamation suit filed by Jai Anant Dehadrai against Mahua Moitra for disseminating defamatory remarks through various media channels, observed that both parties had contributed to diminishing the quality of public discourse.

The bench of Justice Prateek Jalan regarding Mahua’s actions, held that even without specific derogatory terms used to describe Dehadrai, she could have presented her defense. The Court cautioned Moitra against making blatantly false statements about Dehadrai or labeling him as a 'lunatic'. 

Advocate Samudra Sarangi, representing Moitra, asserted that following the court hearing, Dehadrai communicated with the media. Advocate Sarangi further contended that Moitra had defended herself by invoking the principles of justification and fair comment regarding the accusations levied against Dehadrai. 

Advocate Raghav Awasthi, representing Dehadrai, argued that his allegations against Moitra were not meant for the press but were framed as a service to the nation. He referenced Moitra's numerous interviews and highlighted her use of derogatory language against him, as well as alleging that he was influenced by a political party (BJP). He further contended that there existed a significant power imbalance between Dehadrai and Moitra, given her status as a Member of Parliament with a considerable following.

To which the court, clarified that the report from the Parliamentary Ethics Committee concerning Moitra did not bind the Court as the Ethics Committee proceedings were not judicial. 

Justice Jalan further cautioned that the court would not hesitate to impose an injunction against Moitra's remarks. The court further noted that if Dehadrai persists in making objectively inaccurate statements about Moitra, then the court would not restrict Moitra beyond what is necessary. 

Accordingly, the Court adjourned the case until April 25.

Case Title: Jai Anant Dehadrai v Mahua Moitra & Ors. (CS(OS) 236/2024)