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Delhi HC dismisses BJP leader’s plea to remove defamatory content

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed the plea of a BJP leader, who is contesting the Delhi Legislative Assembly election on February 8, to direct a news daily and Internet giant Google to take down allegedly defamatory content relating to him.

A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh rejected the plea challenging an interim order passed by a single judge which had refused to pass an ex-parte order.

The bench made clear that certain observations in the single judge’s January 31 order were only a prima facie view and will have no bearing on the final outcome of the suit.

The candidate has filed a suit before the single judge seeking to restrain the newspaper, Google and others from publishing or disseminating the alleged defamatory material against him. The main suit is pending and is listed for hearing on February 19.

He has filed a suit in the court seeking direction to the newspaper to take down the offending article, published in 2015, stating that he was accused of molesting and sexually assaulting a woman.

Before the single judge, his counsel had contended that a WhatsApp sender be restrained from circulating messages to the effect that the candidate was accused of the offence of rape, as he has been discharged of the charge by a court here.

The court had said though the candidate has been discharged of the offence of rape, he is still accused of the offences under Section 354 (molestation), 354A (sexual harassment), B (use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe) and D (stalking), 201 (destruction of evidence), 506 (criminal intimidation) IPC and Section 67 (punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form) of the Information Technology Act under which also the FIR has been registered.

“The court certainly cannot by its order, direct the allegedly defamatory material to be so dissected,” it had said.

The plea said once he has been discharged of the charge of rape, the content on the website of the newspaper to the effect that he had been booked under Section 376 (rape) of the IPC, is ex-facie defamatory of him and affects his chances in the ensuing election.

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