“Nawab Malik Free To Tweet But…”: Court Puts Aside Defamation Suit



'Nawab Malik Free To Tweet But...': Court Puts Aside Defamation Suit

Dnyandev Wankhede had filed a defamation case against Nawab Malik for his Tweets.


Anti-drugs officer Sameer Wankhede’s father Dnyandev Wankhede was today refused interim relief in a defamation case against Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on his tweets about Mr Wankhede’s family. While finding Mr Malik’s tweets “malicious”, the Court ruled that it can’t be said that allegations made in his tweets could be said to be false at this stage. The minister is free to tweet but only after a reasonable verification of facts, the Bombay High Court said.

“Although plaintiff has the right to privacy, the defendant has the right to freedom of speech and expression, there has to be balancing of fundamental rights,” the Court order read.

Dyandev Wankhede had slapped a defamation case against Mr Malik and sought damages to the tune of Rs. 1.25 crore from him for allegedly making defamatory comments against his son Sameer Wankhede and family through press conferences and on social media.

The suit sought an order declaring Nawab Malik’s statements as defamatory in nature and issuing a permanent injunction restraining the NCP leader from publishing or making statements about the Wankhede family before the media, including on his social media accounts.

In an earlier hearing, the Court had directed Mr Malik to file an affidavit verifying his sensational claims about the officer and his family. The minister had submitted an affidavit the next day saying none of the statements made by him was incorrect and that the evidence produced by him has, in fact, helped the government machinery take corrective steps against the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) Mumbai zonal chief Sameer Wankhede.

Sameer Wankhede, the court had said, is a public official and any member of the public had the right to examine him. “It depends on Dnyandev Wankhede to prove what the minister is saying is false,” the Court said in the hearing earlier this month. 

The Maharashtra minister had released what he claimed was the birth certificate of the NCB officer in a Tweet claiming that he is a Muslim by birth and his real name is “Sameer Dawood Wankhede”. He had also claimed that the officer forged his birth certificate and claimed reservation meant for Scheduled Caste to get his job. 

Sameer Wankhede had alleged that the minister held a grudge against him for arresting his son-in-law in a drugs case and was seeking personal vendetta. 

Mr Malik told NDTV that the NCB is “hiding” behind the case of his son-in-law, portraying his criticism of the agency as a case of vendetta.

The NCB officer had last month led the raid in the drugs-on-cruise case, arresting Superstar Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan and several others. The accused have been granted bail and the anti-drugs agency has come under severe criticism since, with malicious motive ascribed to the arrest.

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