Defamation not a tool for mighty to scuttle citizens’ freedom of speech: Delhi court

The observation was made by the court as it dismissed a defamation suit filed by Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt Ltd against a student for allegedly defaming the institute.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published:November 22, 2016 7:38 pm
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Defamation proceedings cannot be used as an instrument by the mighty to scuttle citizens’ freedom of speech and right to access justice, a Delhi court has said. The observation was made by the court as it dismissed a defamation suit filed by Frankfinn Aviation Services Pvt Ltd against a student for allegedly defaming the institute. “Defamation proceedings cannot become instruments of the mighty to browbeat the citizens and scuttle their freedom of free speech and right of access to legal remedies and redressal of their grievances,” Additional District Judge Kamini Lau said.

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The court said the institute was not entitled to a relief of Rs 3.01 lakh damages, perpetual injunction by restraining the student and his father from allegedly defaming it and mandatory injunction directing them to apologise it.

It passed the verdict in a suit filed by the institute against Pune resident Haresh Bhatia whose son, a student of Frankfinn Institute of Air Hostess Training had filed a cheating case against it in Pune.

It said that the argument of the Bhatia’s counsel that the attempt of the “mighty” institution in filing numerous litigations in Delhi was only to harass him by booking him in multiple cases to compel him for a compromise. Otherwise there was no point of filing defamation suit in Delhi. This “cannot be brushed aside as such a possibility cannot be ruled out”.

The institute alleged that Bhatia’s purpose was to spoil its reputation in public and before courts and he had purportedly defamed the organisation in the presence of its officials in a court premise in 2014 by making derogatory remarks.

Bhatia, in his reply, said his son Rahul had taken admission in Level 5 BTEC Higher National Certificate (HNC) in Aviation Hospitality and Travel Management course at the institute and was issued a completion certificate in May 2008.

In February 2009 Exdecel Ltd, UK, also issued its certificate but the one issued by Frankfinn was “bogus and fake and the course mentioned in the certificate was not even authorised by any educational institute of India” after which he filed a cheating case against it, Bhatia had said.

Regarding the alleged defamatory remarks made against the institute in court premises, the judge said, “I am sure, in case such an incident would have happened, the plaintiff (institute) would have certainly pointed it out to the presiding officer”.