Imphal East Court also rejected a prayer against newspaper editors, publishers, Facebook, Google and YouTube to restrain from “publishing, writing, speaking in media including social media or publishing any content or material” which supposedly defamed IPS officer Themthing Ngashangva
Court of Civil Judge (Senior Division), Imphal East on Tuesday vacated the ex-parte injunction granted against former Additional SP/NAB Th Brinda from making any further “unverified, unsubstantiated and ex-facie defamatory statements” and also rejected IPS officer Themthing Ngashangva’s prayer for passing temporary injunction to restrain from “publishing, writing, speaking in media including social media or publishing any content or material” by newspaper editors, publishers, Facebook, Google and YouTube.
The case filed in 2020 was heard on January 6, 2023 and the order was passed by the court on Tuesday (January 24, 2023). READ THE FULL TEXT OF THE ORDER HERE: themthing v brinda ORDER
As per the order of the court, IPS officer Themthing Ngashangva prayed for passing temporary injunction against Th Brinda from making any “further unverified, unsubstantiated and ex-facie defamatory statements, either orally or in writing” the IPS officer during the pendency of the present suit or till next date of hearing.
Themthing Ngashangva also prayed for restraining eight other defendants and their “agents, officers, partners, servants, employees, associates, representatives, attorneys and all others acting for on its behalf be further restrain from publishing, writing, speaking in media including social media or publishing in media any content or material which is defamatory about plaintiff or publishing and writing any defamatory comments about any pending legal proceeding of which plaintiff is not even a party during the pendency of the present suit or till next date of hearing”.
Presenting the facts of the case, the court order recalled that a case (Case (Cril) No. 1 of 2020) had been initiated SUO Motu and proceeded against Th Brinda by the High Court of Manipur for contempt of court. The court recalled that Th Brinda filed an “affidavit-in-opposition” dated 13.07.2020 in the above case which was as on “17.07.2020 lying in the List of Defective Affidavit”. However, the affidavit “while it was lying in defective list was published by defendant no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 in their newspapers.
Themthing Ngashangva’s advocate Rarry Mangsatabam argued that “Subsequent to the filing of above Cont. Case (Cril) 2 of 2020, defendant no. 1 (Th Brinda) uploaded “certain defamatory statements on 16.07.2020 and 25.07.2020 on Facebook (social media platform). Thereafter, the Themthing Ngashangva contended that he was “a reputed and respectable citizen of the society and has been rendering service to the public as an Indian Police Service (IPS) Officer in the State of Manipur and after a prolong unblemished service to the public and society at large has been finally given the responsibility to serve as Deputy Inspector General (Range-|) Manipur”.
Themthing Ngashangva’s lawyer argued that Th Brinda had made “various false allegations and imputations against plaintiff while answering to 3(three) charges framed against her and the allegations arrayed in her affidavit are not related to the 3 charges framed against her. Further, the Affidavit being in defective list cannot be legally relied upon in as much as the allegations against plaintiff are “lopsided, one sided and also unverified and untested”.
Defendant no. 2 and 3 (publisher and editor of the local daily ‘The Morning Bell’), in an article published on 14.07.2020 and defendant 4 and 6 in their e-newspaper and social media platform, defendant no. 4 to 9 (owner and publisher, executive editor and staff correspondent of “The New Indian Express”, Facebook Inc, Google Inc, and YouTube LLC) “published nearly the entire contents of the said Defective Affidavit dated 13.07.2020 filed by defendant no. 1 in Suo Motu Cont. Case (Cril) 1 of 2020”.
The articles published made “several scathing and defamatory remarks against plaintiff with a view to malign and degrade the reputation of plaintiff and as well as cause prejudice to plaintiff” argued Rarry Mangsatabam, the advocate of Themthing Ngashangva. According to him, the remarks, imputations and allegations made by defendants against plaintiff “are derogatory and are intended to lower the image of plaintiff in the eyes of the public”.
Th Brinda through her lawyer contended that the alleged defamatory statements made in the affidavit was filed in a pending criminal contempt proceeding before the High Court of Manipur. Since, the alleged statements made by her were admittedly made in the course of a judicial proceeding, the statements made in the affidavit are protected by Absolute Privilege and thus, the alleged statements were immune from action of defamation.
The court, after a careful perusal of the contentions, ordered that the ex-parte injunction granted against Th Brinda vide order dated 05.09.2020 stands vacated. “For similar reason as mentioned above, prayer for granting temporary injunction against defendant no. 7 is rejected”. The order also said that the court does not have “any authority to bar defendant no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 from publishing any of the proceedings pending before the Hon’ble High Court. It is for the Hon’ble High Court to decide whether any of its proceeding is to be restrained from publication or not. Therefore, granting temporary injunction against defendant no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 from publishing any of the proceedings pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Manipur will be ultra vires this Court. Hence, prayer for granting temporary injunction against defendant no. 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 is rejected”.
Coming to the prayer for injunction against defendant no. 8 and 9, nothing has been disclosed in the plaint against defendant no. 8 and 9. “In other words, no cause of action has been disclosed against defendant no. 8 and 9 in the plaint. Hence, question of granting temporary injunction against defendant no. 8 and 9 does not arise”.
With the observations made above, “the present application is rejected. This Judicial Misc. Case stands disposed”, said the order. Advocates for defendant No. 1, 2,3 4,5, and 6 were L Birjit and N Abhi, for defendant No. 7 was Nemo while for defendant No. 8 and 9 were S Biswajit Meitei.