Delhi High Court restrains Ashneer Grover from making defamatory statements against BharatPe

The Delhi High Court today restrained the former Managing Director of BharatPe, Ashneer Grover, from making defamatory and derogatory statements against the fintech company, its office bearers and officials. Justice Prathiba M Singh ordered Ashneer Grover to take down his tweets, including the one calling the SBI Chairperson petty, within 48 hours.

In addition, the Delhi High Court also directed Economics Times to take down its article published recently based on Ashneer Grover’s letters written to the RBI Chairman. The judgment follows in a defamation suit filed by BharatPe against Ashneer Grover, his wife and others seeking recovery of Rs 88.67 crores and to restrain them from making any defamatory statements against it on any platform.

Notably, BharatPe filed a fresh application alleging that Grover made certain fresh statements and tweets which is against two judicial orders passed by the court last year, as well as an undertaking given by him not to post similar posts in the future.

Appearing for BharatPe, Senior Advocate Akhil Sibal placed reliance on an article published by Economics Times on March 07 wherein based on Grover’s letter to the RBI Governor alleging that the fintech company defrauded the regulator. It was also alleged that the letter was not given to BharatPe but was tweeted by Grover. It mentioned that Grover was making deliberate allegations against the Chairman of BharatPe who is a former SBI Chairperson.

Meanwhile, Advocate Giriraj Subramanium appearing for Ashneer Grover submitted that the article published by Economic Times was based on his letters to RBI. He added that such a report cannot be stopped by Grover. He contended that the letter could have been sourced by Economics Times from any particular source and maintained the position that Grover did not hand it over to ET.

Considering the publication and tweets in question, the court said that the same were prima facie violative of the judicial orders as well as Grover’s undertaking. The court remarked that Ashneer Grover being a businessman and having been the founder of the plaintiff company, ought not to be making such tweets and derogatory remarks. It also stated that the tweet relating to calling the SBI chairperson petty was completely avoidable as the same innuendo toward BharatPe’s Chairperson.

Last year in November, Ashneer Grover tendered an apology for posting allegedly defamatory posts against the fintech company on social media and gave an undertaking of not doing so in future.

The coordinate bench had then bound him to the undertaking, subject to payment of costs of Rs 2 lakhs payable to the Delhi High Court Bar Clerk’s Association. The court had stated that it was appalled to note the persistent violation of judicial orders by Grover.

Notably, the defendants in the suit are Grover, his wife, his brother-in-law and father-in-law. In the suit,  BharatPe has accused Grover of running a vicious campaign against the company.

The suit also sought damages of over Rs. 88 crores from the defendants. In addition, the suit sought to restrain the defendants from making defamatory statements against the company.

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