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Delhi HC summons Mahua Moitra in defamation suit by Jai Anant Dehadrai

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court has issued summons to Trinamool Congress leader Mahua Moitra in a defamation suit filed by lawyer and former partner Jai Anant Dehadrai.

Earlier this month, the court had refused to grant interim relief to Moitra in a defamation suit against BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and Dehadrai pertaining to alleged defamatory content posted by them on social media regarding the “cash-for-query” allegations against her.

Moitra, who was expelled as a Lok Sabha MP on December 8 last year on the recommendation of the Ethics Committee, faced allegations of receiving cash in exchange for posing questions in the House on behalf of Hiranandani Group CEO Darshan Hiranandani.

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Now, Dehadrai’s suit alleges that Moitra made defamatory statements against him on various social media platforms, as well as in print and electronic media.

On Wednesday, Justice Prateek Jalan issued summons to five media houses as well as social media platforms X and Google LLC.

The court has directed Moitra to respond to Dehadrai’s application seeking interim relief and has scheduled the matter for further hearing on April 8. Dehadrai is seeking Rs 2 crore in damages from Moitra, alleging that she referred to him as “jobless” and “jilted”. Moreover, the suit seeks to restrain Moitra from publishing further defamatory material against Dehadrai on social media.

Dehadrai’s counsel, advocate Raghav Awasthi, did not seek interim orders during the hearing but stressed the urgency of the matter, citing the impact of the alleged defamatory statements on Dehadrai’s legal practice.

Justice Jalan noted that in cases of this nature, both parties are often seen as warring factions, neither solely a victim nor a perpetrator. He expressed that a significant portion of the battle in such cases is fought outside the courtroom.

The judge also ordered the matter to be placed before the judge in charge for appropriate directions on whether Dehadrai’s suit should be adjudicated by the same bench handling Moitra’s suit.

Dehadrai maintains that his motive for filing the complaint against Moitra was to report an incident concerning national security and corruption, but Moitra portrayed him as a “revengeful ex-partner” seeking to settle scores over a past relationship.

The suit claims that Moitra’s statements have damaged Dehadrai’s reputation in the eyes of his family, friends, and colleagues in the legal profession, leading to concerns among his clients about his character and integrity.

Moitra had moved the high court against Dubey, Dehadrai, 15 media organisations and three social media intermediaries following what she alleged were false and defamatory accusations against her.

Dubey’s counsel, advocate Abhimanyu Bhandari, had argued that Moitra had committed perjury and that she also shared her Parliament login credentials.

The defamation suit came after Moitra issued a legal notice to Dubey, Dehadrai and several media outlets, vehemently denying any wrongdoing. Dubey had lodged a complaint with the Lok Sabha Speaker, claiming that Moitra had accepted bribes for raising questions in the Parliament. According to Dubey, the allegations stemmed from a letter addressed to him by Dehadrai.

Moitra had then allegedly filed two police complaints dated March 24 and September 23 against Dehadrai and the same were later withdrawn by her on account of settlement talks.

Moitra’s legal notice said that Dubey, for immediate political gains, regurgitated the false and defamatory allegations contained in the letter sent to the Speaker of the Lok Sabha. It further claimed that both Dubey and Dehadrai are directly responsible for tarnishing Moitra’s reputation for their own personal and political motives.

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