The Bombay High Court on Monday refused to restrain NCP leader and state cabinet minister Nawab Malik from publishing information on public domain and social media against Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede and his family members.
However, the court said that Malik should conduct reasonable verification before releasing information or posting on social media.
The court was hearing the defamation suit filed by Wankhede’s father Dhyandev Kachruji Wankhede against Malik seeking Rs 1.25 crore for damages. The suit was filed after the Maharashtra minister shared on his Twitter handle a birth certificate, purportedly of Sameer Wankhede, claiming that his father is one Dawood Wankhede.
The plea by Dhyandev claimed that the entire tirade against Sameer Wankhede started only after Malik’s son-in-law Sameer Khan was arrested by NCB in January this year under the NDPS Act for allegedly trading contraband. Khan was later released on bail on September 27.
HC noted that the tweets by Malik started from October 14 and that prima facie material showed tweets were actuated by malice and personal animosity.
The court noted it was contended that the tweets were relevant to official duties of Wankhede and were for public awareness.
At this stage it cannot be said that the allegations made in the tweets were absolutely false. A blanket injunction cannot be ordered but Malik should furnish writings only after carrying out reasonable verification of facts, it added.
The court further said that while the plaintiff (Dhyandev) has the right to privacy, Malik has the right to free speech subject to restrictions stated in Article 19(2).
“In this case, it is necessary to balance fundamental rights of plaintiff and defendant,” Justice Madhav Jamdar said.
“The tweets are relevant to Wankhede’s official duties as a public servant and at this stage it cannot be said that the allegations are totally false but due verification must be done by Malik before posting,” Bombay HC stated.
Meanwhile, Dhyandev has also filed a police complaint in Mumbai against Malik for allegedly making “false and derogatory” remarks against him and his family members and their caste on various media platforms.