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Can't stop Mahua Moitra from defending herself in public, observes Delhi HC on Jai Anant Dehadrai plea

The court said that given the nature of the past relationship between the two, it was normal to think that the other person was wrong but the parties brought down the public discourse to a "fairly low" level.

Edited By: Nivedita Dash @Nivedita0503 New Delhi Updated on: April 09, 2024 14:55 IST
TMC MP Mahua Moitra
Image Source : PTI TMC MP Mahua Moitra

In a relief to Mahua Moitra, the Delhi High Court observed that the TMC leader cannot be prevented from defending herself against allegations made by an estranged friend in public domain as long as her statements are not objectively false. Moitra was expelled from the Lok Sabha on December 8 following accusations by the plaintiff that she took bribes from businessman and Hiranandani Group CEO Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament.

The court made the oral observation while dealing with a plea by lawyer Jai Anant Dehadrai seeking an interim injunction to stop the expelled Lok Sabha MP from making "defamatory" statements against him. Dehadrai has filed a lawsuit against Moitra seeking damages of Rs 2 crore for making certain allegedly defamatory statements against him in the backdrop of the cash-for-query row.

"If you put the allegations in the public domain, she has every right to defend herself. Except that she cannot make any objectively false statements," said Justice Prateek Jalan during the hearing. "If both the parties say we don't wish to have this battle in public domain, then it is one thing. (But) If you are going to make a public comment, then she has to have the space to defend herself," added the judge.

Counsel for the politician said her statements are not defamatory and can be justified on several grounds, including that they qualify as "fair comment".

Counsel for the plaintiff, however, said there is a "power gap" between the parties and the defendant made certain factually false comments about his professional life and imputed motives to him. The court "appealed" to Moitra's good sense and asked her counsel to take instructions in the matter since there have not been any statements in recent times.


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