Delhi HC Orders Ashneer Grover to Remove Defamatory Content Against BharatPe

Ashneer Grover

The Delhi High Court expressed its disapproval on Friday regarding certain “derogatory” content posted by former BharatPe co-founder Ashneer Grover against the financial technology company. The court directed Grover to take down his social media posts targeting the company.

A single judge Justice Prathiba M Singh remarked that Grover’s tweet labeling SBI chairmen as “petty people” was an innuendo aimed at the present BharatPe board chairperson Rajnish Kumar, who previously held that position. She noted that it was “completely avoidable” and that Grover prima facie acted in complete violation of earlier court orders asking him not to make defamatory allegations against the firm.

The judge also ordered the removal of news reports about a letter written by Grover to the RBI, levelling allegations against BharatPe.

The court’s order came in response to a lawsuit filed by Resilient Innovations Pvt Ltd, which owns BharatPe, against its former Managing Director Ashneer Grover and his family members for the recovery of over Rs 88 crore and relief against defamation.

“Defendant number 2 (Ashneer Grover), being a businessman and founder of the plaintiff company, ought not to be making such tweets and derogatory remarks,” Justice Singh stated.

“Mr. Subramanium, please warn him,” the judge instructed Grover’s lawyer, urging him not to make further objectionable statements against the company.

“Whatever things are happening, you will not yourself do anything. You will not go public like this,” the court added.

Senior counsel representing the plaintiff company stated that despite earlier court orders in the matter, Ashneer Grover recently made tweets regarding his letter to the RBI, alleging that BharatPe “defrauded” the regulator. The court observed that making “unnecessary” public statements would not only adversely impact the company’s business and employees but also its reputation.

“This is a well-established company. Whatever dispute there is, will be resolved. You will not destroy the business of the company. If that happens, who will invest further?” the court questioned.

“The said tweets and publications must be taken down by Defendant no. 2 as well as (the media platform). Any publication based on the letter must be taken down by the platform,” the court ordered.

Resilient Innovations had filed the lawsuit in 2022 against its former MD Grover and his family members to restrain them from making defamatory statements.

The high court had earlier issued summons to Ashneer Grover, his wife, and other defendants in the suit filed by the fintech firm, accusing the couple of misappropriating funds. Grover had resigned from the company in March 2022, and his wife was removed from her post.

In the suit, besides seeking to restrain the defendants from making defamatory statements, the company also sought direction for payment of over Rs 88.67 crore along with interest towards the recovery of alleged misappropriated funds and damage caused to the reputation of the firm.

The plaintiff had previously claimed before the court that Grover, his wife, and other relatives were conducting a “vicious and vitriolic” campaign against the company, which has a large number of foreign investors.

Besides Grover and his wife, the company has listed Deepak Gupta, Suresh Jain, and Shwetank Jain as defendants, who were all relatives of the couple and were appointed to different posts in the company.

In May 2023, the high court had instructed all parties to refrain from resorting to unparliamentary and defamatory publications against each other.

In November 2023, the high court had imposed costs of Rs 2 lakh on Grover for his defamatory social media posts, stating it was “appalled” to note the “persistent” and “blatant” violation of its earlier orders and assurances given by him.

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About the Author: Nunnem Gangte