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Defamation case against Cong leaders: Delhi HC modifies order on removing content from social media

New Delhi, Feb 29, 2024
The Delhi High Court on Thursday modified a 2022 interim injunction in the defamation case brought by Union minister Smriti Irani against three Congress leaders — Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera and Netta D’Souza.

The modification addresses the role of social media platforms, especially X, YouTube and Meta, in removing content deemed defamatory towards Smriti Irani and her daughter.

Originally, the court’s directive to these platforms was broad, demanding the removal of not only specific allegations, videos, posts, tweets and retweets, but also any content “similar thereto”, including morphed pictures.

This created a challenge for the platforms, as it implied a need for ongoing monitoring and assessment of content to ensure compliance.

Social media intermediaries sought clarification or modification, citing the impracticality of constant content monitoring and the removal of “anything similar” to the identified defamatory content.

Responding to these concerns, Justice Prateek Jalan modified the order. Now, if Smriti Irani identifies any content as violative of the injunction, she must first request the uploader to remove it.

If the content remains after three days, she can then approach the social media platforms directly. The platforms, upon receiving such a request, will have three days to decide if the content indeed violates the injunction and, if so, remove it.

However, if the platforms determine the content does not breach the order, the minister is entitled to challenge the decision in court.

The case against the Congress leaders stems from allegations levelled against Smriti Irani and her daughter concerning the operation of a restaurant in Goa, seeking both removal of the ‘defamatory’ content and prevention of further ‘false allegations’.(Agency)

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