Delhi HC slams Saket Gokhale in Lakshmi Puri's defamation case
The Delhi High Court today slammed self-described activist Saket Gokhale for putting out allegedly defamatory tweets against former Indian envoy Lakshmi Puri. Puri is a former Assistant Secretary-General at the United Nations and the wife of Union Minister Hardeep Puri. She has sought the removal of Gokhale's tweets besides a compensation of Rs. 5 crore. The court has reserved its order in the case.
'How can you be vilifying people like this?'
Gokhale had alleged in a series of tweets last month that Puri owned property in Switzerland that was disproportionate to her income. About his allegations, Justice C Hari Shankar asked Gokhale if he had approached Puri or the authorities before making claims on a public platform. "How can you be vilifying people like this?" the court asked.
What are Gokhale's allegations against Puri?
Gokhale had tweeted on June 23, "So Amb. Lakshmi Puri purchased a house worth CHF 1.6 million (Rs. 12.9 crores) in Switzerland in 2006...Of this CHF 1.6 million, she took a loan of CHF 10,60,000. Which means she made a down payment of CHF 5,40,000 (Rs. 4.3 crores)." "How did @HardeepSPuri & his spouse have an annual income of 2.4 crores in 2006...? (sic)"
'All facts declared': Puri has rubbished the claims
Puri had tweeted the same day to rubbish the allegations against her. "Get your facts right @SaketGokhale & there is no 'mystery'. I was an International Civil Servant from 2002 to Feb '18. Drew a tax free UN salary of over US $200,000 annually when I bought the apartment in Geneva." "All facts declared to concerned authorities. Prepare to be sued," she had added.
Puri had earlier sent a legal notice to Gokhale
Puri had earlier sent a legal notice to Gokhale, asking him to remove the tweets. He, however, refused to do that. "He says you are not the court, so we had to approach the court," her advocate, Maninder Singh, told the court today.
Puri said her daughter gave her money to buy flat
Puri told the court that her daughter had helped her with the money to buy the apartment in Switzerland. "My elder daughter, who is a banker in New York, gave me 6 lakh Swiss francs and I had mortgage of 10 lakh Swiss francs. I have put these documents before court." She added she doesn't currently hold any public office to face these allegations.
Court reserves order, next hearing is on Tuesday
Taking objection to Gokhale's allegations, the court asked, "So any Tom, Dick and Harry can write anything vilificatory against anyone on the internet?" "Before you throw mud at someone, you must do a due diligence exercise," it noted. The Delhi High Court has since reserved its order in the case and will next hear the matter on Tuesday, July 13.