[Defamation Case] Sr Adv Gopal Shankaranarayanan Withdraws to Appear for Mahua Moitra Before Delhi HC

Read Time: 08 minutes


The defamation suit has been filed by TMC MP Mahua Moitra after Dubey and Jai Anant Dehadrai alleged that she received cash and gifts as bribes to ask questions in the Lok Sabha

In TMC MP Mahua Moitra's defamation suit before the Delhi High Court seeking directions to restrain BJP MP Nishikant Dubey, Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, and several social media platforms and media houses from posting, circulating, or publishing any fake and defamatory content against her, Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan on Friday withdrew to appear for Moitra after Dehadrai informed the court that he was contacted by him to withdraw the complaint against the TMC MP.

Dehadrai, appearing in person, informed the court that he was contacted by the senior counsel last night, asking him to withdraw his complaint. He said, "He asked me to withdraw my complaint in exchange for my dog. I have a call recording. Shankaranaryan spoke to me".

To this, the senior counsel said, "Dehadrai had instructed me in the past. When I was asked to appear in the matter, I told my client (Mahua Moitra) to let me speak to him. She had agreed to it. That's why I approached him".

The bench of Justice Sachin Datta said, "I am really appalled. You are a person who is expected to maintain the highest professional standard. If you have been in contact with Defendant No. 2, It means you have played the role of a mediator. Do you think you can appear in this matter?"

Sankaranarayana replied, "Alright, I'll withdraw".

Accordingly, the court adjourned the matter till October 31, 2023 for further hearing.

Notably, on October 17, the court issued notices to the defendants in the case. "In view of the urgency emphasized by learned senior counsel for the plaintiff [Ms. Moitra], list on October 20, 2023,” the court had said.

Moitra, the Lok Sabha MP representing Krishnanagar in West Bengal, has sought a permanent injunction against Dubey, Advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai, social media platform X, search engine Google, YouTube, and 15 media houses, and to restrain them from making, publishing, and circulating per se defamatory, ex facie false, and malicious statements against her. She has also sought damages.

Dubey has accused Moitra of taking a bribe from a businessman to ask questions in Parliament and urged Speaker Om Birla to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges against her. Citing a letter he received from Advocate Dehadrai, Dubey said that the lawyer shared “irrefutable” evidence of bribes being given to the Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader by a businessman.

In his letter to the Lok Sabha speaker, Dubey claimed 50 of 61 questions Moitra asked in the Lok Sabha till recently were focused on the Adani Group, the business conglomerate which the TMC MP has often accused of malpractices, more so after it was at the receiving end of a critical report by short-seller Hindenburg Research.

In her plea, Moitra has sought an order directing defendants no. 1 (Nishikant Dubey) and 2 (Jai Anant Dehadrai) to publish a retraction and an apology to the plaintiff in three English newspapers, three Hindi newspapers, and three Bengali newspapers for the false and defamatory statements and allegations” made by them against her.

Moitra said that Dehadrai was her close friend, and recently, the cessation of this friendship soon took a bitter turn, and he “resorted to sending vile, threatening, and vulgar messages to the plaintiff and also trespassed into the plaintiff’s official residence and stole some personal possessions of the plaintiff, including her pet dog, Henry [the same was returned later]”.

She has said in the plea that various news reports, tweets, and videos are being run or carried by the social media platforms and media houses on their respective platforms and channels, in which “wild, unfounded, false, baseless, and defamatory allegations leaked by Defendant nos. 1 and 2 are being further propagated and thereby cause further prejudice, damage, and injury to plaintiff’s reputation and goodwill”.

Moitra has claimed that her morphed private pictures were leaked, which has been causing tremendous harm to her reputation and mental well-being, and she is being harassed by social media users.

Case Title: Mahua Moitra v. Nishikant Dubey and Ors.