A Jammu court on Saturday restrained suspended IPS officer Basant Rath from publishing any post or material by any means of communication which is defamatory or derogatory against six people who claimed to be “acquainted” with Director General of Jammu and Kashmir Police, Dilbagh Singh.
Second Additional Munsiff, Jammu, Jeewan Kumar Sharma’s order came on a suit seeking court’s directions to restrain Rath from making any defamatory, derogatory, libelous or slanderous posts/material on social media. They also sought directions asking Rath to withdraw defamatory posts already made against them on social media.
The suit is filed by businessmen Parveen Kumar Mittal, Saurabh Dng, Rahul Bansal, Davinder Verma, Amit Kohli, and Virender Dubey, a medical practitioner.
Claiming that they are “acquainted’’ with DGP Singh, and have family relations with him, they submitted that “it appears (Rath) has some personal grouse against Dilbagh Singh and in this regard, he is maligning the image of not only the DGP, but also the plaintiffs’’.
In various posts, Rath has levelled various allegations against Singh.
The judge referred to the argument of plaintiffs’ counsel, Pranav Kohli, that posts made by the defendant may seem to be innocent, but because of some latent or secondary meaning may be considered to be defamatory.
“Although the alleged social media posts seem to be innocent but it is argued that the same has a secondary and latent meaning which is derogatory and defamatory against the plaintiffs,’’ the judge observed.
The Home Ministry had on Tuesday suspended Basant Rath, a 2000-batch J&K cadre IPS officer, and asked him not to leave the headquarters at Jammu without the DGP’s permission.
The court observed, “Under Article 19 of the Constitution, freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right and as such, the defendant…has (this) fundamental right…but the right can be exercised within the four corners of reasonable restrictions itself imposed by Article 19 and the posts made by the defendant should not be derogatory or defamatory with respect to the plaintiffs.”
Observing that the court is satisfied that plaintiffs have a prima facie case in their favour, and that the balance of convenience also lies in their favour, the judge said, “If the interim relief, whatever is necessary is not granted to the applicant, they shall suffer an irreparable loss which cannot be compensated later on.”
The judge issued notice to the defendant to file written statement in the main suit as well as objections in the application, directing him that in the meanwhile not to publish any post or material by any means of communication which is defamatory or derogatory against the plaintiffs.
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