The Delhi High Court has ex parte ordered three media houses against publishing a digital video allegedly depicting “sexual acts” of senior advocate and Congress spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi, which the politician alleges is fake and an attempt by his former driver at extortion.
Mukesh Kumar Lal was restrained by Justice Reva Khetrapal on 13 April from “publishing, broadcasting, disseminating or distributing in any form or manner the contents of any alleged CD or any other material as described in the plaint in relation to the plaintiff No. 2” – Singhvi - reported the Indian Express.
The first plaintiff, whose name is the only petitioner listed on the Delhi high court’s causelist, is lawyer Abhimanyu Bhandari, who is a founding partner of Axon Partners with Singhvi and Singhvi’s son.
The order was passed ex parte against Aaj Tak, Headlines Today and The India Today Group but it was not available at the time of going to press.
Singhvi is represented by advocate Sangeeta Sharma.
According to the Express, the court found that the “...plaintiffs have made out a prima facie case for grant of an ex-parte ad interim injunction in their favour. The balance of convenience is also tilted in favour of the plaintiffs and against the defendants” and that “irreparable injury is likely to be caused to the reputation and goodwill of plaintiff 2 (Abhishek Manu Singhvi) in case the defendants are not restrained from disseminating the information allegedly in their possession in the form of CD.”
“Publicity to the content of such a CD would only be for sensational and salacious purpose and would amount to a gross and irreparable violation of an individual’s privacy and would be per se defamatory,” Singhvi had submitted to the court according to Firstpost.
IANS reported that after Singhvi had filed a police complaint on 23 March, and on 24 March Singhvi received “calls from several senior political leaders about the possession of the CD with journalists”, IANS summarised the petition:
According to Singhvi's petition, the SMSes referred to a CD, which Lal said that he would distribute to all media houses, severely embarrassing and defaming the name and reputation of Singhvi.
The petition further stated: “Lal said that he needs a very large amount of money or else he will start spreading false rumours and allegations against Singhvi, including false statement regarding his moral character and will go to the media and distribute a CD which allegedly depicts alleged sexual acts made allegedly by Abishek Manu Singhvi and will not hesitate from making other false claim.” […]
Singhvi claimed that such a CD either does not exist or if it does, it is clearly and obviously morphed, fabricated and forged.
The Delhi high court case is Abhimanyu Bhandari & anr vs. Mukesh Kumar Lal & Ors (CS(OS) 978/2012). The next hearing is due on 21 May 2012 in Court number 24.
On Twitter this morning the phrase “Abhishek Manu Singhvi” was “trending” in India – the term used to describe topics that are especially popular on the microblogging service.
Legally India blogger @courtwitness1 tweeted: “There seems to be pretty much only one topic of conversation in the
#supremecourtofindia today. […]”
@sumit_nagpal added: “I have got calls from so many Senior Advocates in last two days! Everyone with the same question.. ''Do u have Singhvi CD?''”
@churumuri tweeted: “One CD, two clips, 9 minutes and 12 minutes long, 74 MB and 314 MB, say those who have watched it. Killer line […]”
@amishra77 asks in response: “The HC has only barred media houses from telecasting the CD. Not individual bloggers from hosting it at their site. Right?”
According to several Tweets, the video shows what purports to be Singhvi and a senior female lawyer.
Photo by Lawrence Leonard Gilbert