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Karnataka court passes John Doe order on photograph defaming 2 Supreme Court judges

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A local court in Bengaluru has directed the social media platforms to take down a photograph, which was claimed to be of Supreme Court Judges, Justices Surya Kant and JB Pardiwala, while passing a John Doe order in the case.

The court passed the order on a petition filed by Dipali Sikand, the owner of club MindEscapes, where the photo was clicked with some guests.

Social media giants, including Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and WhatsApp were directed to take down the defamatory content against Sikand.

The defendants were further restrained by the court from publishing such content against Sikand.

Sikand said in her petition that renowned journalist and member of the Kasturi family that controls the Hindu Group of publications N Ram and his wife Mariam had hosted a lunch at her Tamil Nadu-based club on July 1. The photograph was clicked at this venue.

The guests included Dr Palanivel Thiagarajan, current Finance Minister of Tamil Nadu; CPI(M) leader Prakash Karat; CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat; NDTV founder Prannoy Roy; and NDTV founder Radhika Roy.

This picture was shared by Sikand on her private Facebook and Linkedin pages.

Following the remarks made by both Justice Kant and Justice Pardiwala during the hearing in the Nupur Sharma case, several individuals circulated the photograph wrongly identifying the guests as the abovesaid judges and made allegations against them of dining with ‘naxal groups’ and ‘communists’.

Sikand then knocked on the doors of the the Court, stating that such false and defamatory content has violated her rights as well as those of her guests, and that they have suffered irreparable injury to their reputation and goodwill.

As per Sikand, some websites published a clarificatory story on the photograph and tried to point out that the individuals in the photograph were not the two judges of the Supreme Court.

However, “several individuals are still posting about the photograph with false captions and defamatory statements about the plaintiff and its guests,” she added.

The suit filed by Sikand sought the passing of a John Doe order (an order seeking injunction against unknown individuals). It also specifically arraigned three individuals who shared the photograph – Jagadeesh Laxman Singh, Siddharth Dey and Sonalika Kumar – as defendants.

A team from Spectrum Legal led by Partner Chintan Chinnappa, who was assisted by Vishaka Nikkam, Basil Shibu and Siddharth Shandilya, appeared for Sikand.

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