Search Engine Google Monday told the Delhi High Court that it has complied with the order to remove web links allegedly containing objectionable material against Union Minister Smriti Irani and her daughter and said the BJP leader may provide other URLs on which action will be taken. Google's counsel told the high court that only one URL was provided to them by Irani and the same has been disabled.
Justice Mini Pushkarna issued notice and sought a reply from Irani on an application filed by Google seeking modification of the July 29 order in which the court had directed social media platforms to remove the allegations, videos, posts, tweets, re-tweets, captions, taglines along with the morphed pictures of the plaintiff and her daughter along with the underlined material with such defamatory content or anything similar thereto including recirculation on their respective platforms.
Senior advocate Arvind Nigam, representing Google, submitted that the URLs which the plaintiff wants them to remove must be provided to the intermediary which cannot be expected to monitor the material. Nigam, along with lawyer Mamta Jha, contended that Google is not an adjudicating authority and it cannot decide what needs to be removed and what not and the plaintiff is under an obligation to give them the weblinks and action will be taken accordingly.
The high court had on July 29 issued summonses to three Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera, and Netta D'Souza on Irani's civil defamation suit and had also asked them to take down tweets and other social media posts on allegations levelled against the union minister and her daughter.
It had held that Irani and her daughter were neither owners of a restaurant-cum-bar in Goa at the centre of controversy nor a license was ever issued in their favour, and said the statements by three Congress leaders against them seem to be "bogus with malicious intent".
Further saying that even the show cause notice issued by the Government of Goa was not addressed to Irani or her family members, the high court had said the three Congress leaders along with others conspired to "launch a tirade of false, scathing and belligerent personal attacks" against them.
The Congress leaders have alleged that the senior BJP leader and her daughter had links with the upmarket restaurant - 'Silly Souls Café and Bar'. Irani has filed a defamation suit against the Congress leaders for allegedly making baseless and false accusations against her and her 18-year-old daughter.
The high court had said since the plaintiff commands an esteemed position as a minister in the Government of India and considering the nature of her public office, there is immense public glare and scrutiny of any information about her in the public domain.
It had noted that there is an imperative need to protect the reputation of an individual, least to say, that of the plaintiff who is a respected member of the society and esteemed member of the Union Ministry.
It had said it was of the considered view that the statements made by the Congress leaders were in the "nature of slander and seem to be bogus with malicious intent, only to garner the highest amount of viewership thereby intentionally subjecting the plaintiff to a great public ridicule."
Passing an interim injunction directing the Congress leaders to remove from social media the allegations made against Irani and her daughter, the court had said in case the defendants fail to comply with its directions to remove tweets, retweets, posts, videos, and photos from social media concerning the allegations within 24 hours, social media platforms Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube shall take down the material.
Irani's action had come after the Congress leaders alleged that her daughter Zoish Irani ran a bar illegally in Goa and also targeted the minister over this, demanding that Prime Minister Narendra Modi sack her from his Cabinet.
‘Delete and remove the allegations’
"After seeing the documents placed on record and the excerpts of the press conference, I am of the prima facie view that slanderous and libelous allegations have been made against the plaintiff without verifying actual facts. Great injury has been caused to the reputation of the plaintiff and her family in view of the various tweets and re-tweets which have followed the press conference carried out by the defendants," the court had said.
The judge further said, "I deem it expedient to pass an ad-interim injunction directing defendants 1-3 (Congress leaders) to delete and remove the allegations, video of impugned press conference dated July 23, 2022, and the contents linked to the same …, published against the plaintiff from all the social media platforms, namely, Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter." The matter has now been listed for further hearing before the court and registrar on November 15 and August 18, respectively.