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Rajat Sharma Defamation Case: Delhi High Court Rebukes X Corp for Contesting Order to Remove Alleged Defamatory Posts

On Wednesday, the Delhi High Court reprimanded X Corp (formerly Twitter) for challenging a court directive to remove posts by Congress leaders, which claimed journalist Rajat Sharma used inappropriate language towards Congress leader Ragini Nayak on live television

A Division Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela expressed concern over X Corp’s impartiality, noting, “You are not behaving like an intermediary. You must behave like a neutral platform… We are finding increasingly on the original and the appellate sides that the Domain Name Registrars and intermediaries are refusing to comply with court orders. It is not only a national trend but international.”

Questioning Resistance to Court Order

Justice Gedela questioned why X Corp was resisting the order, particularly in a case involving someone’s reputation. Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, representing X Corp, argued that the concern was not about the content itself but the manner in which the order was issued. He noted that the single-judge ordered X to remove the content within seven days, despite the defendants (Congress leaders) not being identifiable.

Ex Parte Order and Compliance

Rao emphasized that if an ex parte order is issued, X would comply but sought a more structured process. He highlighted that Rajat Sharma’s suit was not served to any defendants, which if done, might make the issue moot. He referenced the Supreme Court’s stance on granting ex parte injunctions only in exceptional circumstances.

Court’s Interim Order and Future Hearings

The Court acknowledged Rao’s request and clarified that the impugned order was ad interim. The single-judge will reconsider the interim relief application on July 11. This comes after a single-judge’s ex parte order on June 14, directing the removal of social media posts by Congress leaders Ragini Nayak, Jairam Ramesh, and Pawan Khera, which alleged Sharma used foul language against Nayak.

Justice Neena Bansal Krishna found that the Congress leaders had exaggerated the incident, causing potential irreparable harm to Sharma if the content remained online. Sharma is seeking ₹100 crore in damages for defamation against Nayak, Khera, and Ramesh. The controversy arose from a video clip circulated on social media, purportedly showing Sharma using inappropriate language during a live discussion on India TV. Nayak subsequently posted the video on X and filed a police complaint against Sharma.

On June 11, Sharma claimed that the Congress media cell falsely accused him of using foul language, calling it a conspiracy.

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