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Cash for query: HC reserves order on Mahua Moitra’s plea against defamatory content

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Mahua Moitra Supreme Court

TMC leader Mahua Moitra (File image)

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on an interim plea by Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Mahua Moitra, who was recently expelled from the Lok Sabha, seeking to restrain BJP MP Nishikant Dubey and advocate Jai Anant Dehadrai from posting or circulating any alleged fake and defamatory content against her.

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The high court reserved its order on the interim application after hearing the counsel for Moitra, Dubey and Dehadrai.

It sought to know from the counsel for the defendants if there was any quid pro quo between Moitra, who was recently expelled from the Lok Sabha, and businessman Darshan Hiranandani.

The expelled Lok Sabha member from Krishnanagar in West Bengal had, in her plea filed in October, sought permanent injunction against Dubey, Dehadrai, social media platforms X, search engine Google, YouTube and 15 media houses, and wanted them to be restrained them from making, publishing, circulating defamatory, ex facie false and malicious statements against her. She has also sought damages.

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She later deleted all media houses and social media intermediaries from the memo of parties and maintained her case was only against Dubey and Dehadrai.

During the arguments, senior advocate Sanjoy Ghosh, appearing for Dehadrai, and lawyer Abhimanyu Bhandari, representing Dubey, claimed there was a quid pro quo and Moitra received gifts and other benefits from Hiranandani for asking questions that favoured his business interests.

They also referred to the report of the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee and said even the committee found a quid pro quo between her and Hiranandani which ultimately resulted in Moitra’s expulsion.

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The court asked the counsel to place on record the relevant extract of the committee’s report.

Moitra’s counsel opposed the submissions, saying she had received gifts from Hiranandani because they were friends and not for asking questions in Parliament.

The lawyer claimed that Dehadrai and Dubey were still making defamatory statements against Moitra and urged the court to restrain them from doing so.

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Dubey had accused Moitra of taking bribe from Hiranandani Group CEO Darshan Hiranandani to ask questions in Parliament and urged Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to constitute an inquiry committee to look into the charges against her.

Citing a letter he received from advocate Dehadrai, Dubey had said the lawyer shared "irrefutable" evidence of bribes allegedly being given to the TMC leader by the businessman.

In his letter to the Lok Sabha speaker, Dubey claimed 50 of the 61 questions she asked in the Lok Sabha till recently were focused on the Adani Group, the business conglomerate which the TMC MP has often accused of malpractices, more so after it was at the receiving end of a critical report by short seller Hindenburg Research.

Based on these allegations, the Lok Sabha Ethics Committee had suggested Moitra’s removal from the lower house following which she was expelled on December 8.

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