Ashneer says sorry, HC slaps Rs 2 lakh fine over posts against BharatPe

| | New Delhi
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Ashneer says sorry, HC slaps Rs 2 lakh fine over posts against BharatPe

Wednesday, 29 November 2023 | PTI | New Delhi

Ashneer says sorry, HC slaps Rs 2 lakh fine over posts against BharatPe

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday imposed Rs 2 lakh as costs on BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover in the matter related to his alleged defamatory social media posts against the fintech company even as he tendered an apology for his conduct.

Justice Rekha Palli took on record the apology and the undertaking given by Grover but proceeded to impose costs on him, saying the "court cannot be taken for granted".

The judge, while dealing with a plea by Resilient Innovations Pvt Ltd - which owns BharatPe - against Grover, said the court was "appalled" to note the "persistent" and "blatant" violation of the earlier orders and assurances given by Grover in this regard.

The plea forms part of a lawsuit by Resilient Innovations against former managing director Grover and others.

"Taking into account that defendant no 2 is now filing an affidavit specifically undertaking not to post any such defamatory posts in future and is also apologising for his past behaviour, this court is inclined to close the matter at this stage by binding the defendant no 2 to his undertaking.

"This is, however, subject to a payment of costs of Rs 2 lakh," the court ordered.

The court directed that the amount shall be paid to the high court's clerks' association.

Senior advocate Akhil Sibal, appearing for the plaintiff, argued that in spite of court orders asking the parties not to make offending statements and Grover's undertaking to this effect, he was posting defamatory content against the fintech company on social media.

The senior lawyer said that an earlier application by the plaintiff was also closed after an assurance was given by Grover who was now adopting a "shoot and scoot" strategy to publish his defamatory posts.

He urged the court to issue an injunction order restraining Grover from posting such content.

The counsel for Grover said he was tendering an apology and undertaking to not post any offending posts in the future and the present plea may be disposed of.

He also suggested that the matter may be placed for mediation.

Last year, Resilient Innovations filed the lawsuit against its former MD Ashneer Grover and his family members to restrain them from making allegedly defamatory statements.

The court had issued summons to Ashneer Grover, his wife and other defendants in the suit filed by the fintech firm which has accused the couple of misappropriating funds.

Grover resigned from the company in March 2022 and his wife was removed from her post.

In the suit, besides seeking to restrain the defendants from making defamatory statements, the company has also sought direction for payment of over Rs 88.67 crore along with interest towards the recovery of alleged misappropriated funds and damages caused to the reputation of the firm.

The company has earlier claimed before the court that Grover, his wife and other relatives were carrying out a "vicious and vitriolic" campaign against the company which has a large number of foreign investors.

Besides Grover and his wife, the company has arrayed as defendants Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain and Shwetank Jain - all relatives of the couple who were appointed in different posts in the company.

As an interim relief, the company has sought a direction to the defendants to delete or remove within five days all statements, tweets, social media posts, books, re-tweets, hashtags, videos, press conferences, interviews and comments made against the firm.

It also sought liberty to approach social media platforms, media houses, publications and others for deletion of such material.

On May 16, the high court asked all parties to avoid recourse to unparliamentary and defamatory publications against each other.

The lawsuit is listed for the next hearing on December 13.

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