Narcotics Control Bureau Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede and his wife Kranti Redkar have approached a court in Mumbai seeking directions to social media companies Google, Facebook and Twitter to restrain them from displaying or publishing “malicious and defamatory” content about them, Live Law reported on Friday.
The couple filed a petition before the Dindoshi sessions court, according to The Indian Express.
Wankhede and his wife alleged that the misinformation was being spread by those against whom the Narcotics Control Bureau officer had taken action in his professional capacity.
The plea stated that these social media companies are required to ensure that misinformation, defamatory and depreciative statements are not permitted on their platforms under the Information Technology Act, 2000.
“I say that the defendants [the social media companies] have failed through their acts of omission to take any steps against the defamation and smear campaigns against myself and plaintiff no 2 [Redkar] rampant on their platforms which the defendants have total control over,” the plea said.
The couple alleged that the social media companies had abdicated their responsibility to check misinformation as such activities attract more users to their platforms and generates revenue for them.
“The modus operandi is such that the defendants and mainstream media interchangeably feed off each other, such that gossip, wilful rumours and character assassination done on the defendants’ [social media] channels are picked up by the mainstream media,” the plea said, according to The Indian Express.
The plea said that this continued campaign was meant to discredit him and his official work.
“It is only just and fair that the defendants be directed to prevent the misuse of their platforms to threaten and defame me for being a government servant, who has no other remedy,” the plea said.
The plea said that when these “unscrupulous elements” realised that Sameer Wankhede was largely unaffected by such “character assassination”, they started targeting his wife, reported PTI.
“The plaintiffs state that the circle of such accusations have been only widening to cover even the distant relatives of the plaintiffs,” it added.
Sameer Wankhede had earlier impleaded the Indian branch of these companies. During the hearing last month, the court had given Sameer Wankhede time to move against the parent companies as defendants.
The court will now hear the matter on December 17.
Nawab Malik apologises for violating Bombay HC order
Maharashtra minister Nawab Malik on Friday apologised to the Bombay High Court for violating an undertaking that he will not make comments about Sameer Wankhede and his family, Bar and Bench reported.
The Nationalist Congress Party leader had repeatedly accused Sameer Wankhede of misconduct while he was leading the investigation into the drugs case involving actor Shah Rukh Khan’s son Aryan Khan.
Malik had alleged that the officer used forged documents to get his job under the Scheduled Caste quota, often bringing up the names of his family members.
The minister had also accused Sameer Wankhede of being part of a Bharatiya Janata Party leader’s plan to kidnap Aryan Khan.
Sameer Wankhede’s father Dhyandev Wankhede filed a defamation case against Malik in the Bombay High Court in November. He said that Malik’s defamatory comments about his son, made through press releases, interviews and on Twitter, had damaged his family’s reputation.
A single-judge bench of the Bombay High Court had asked Nawab to first verify the accusations that before going public, but had refused to stop him from making statements about Wankhede and his family.
Sameer Wankhede’s father then appealed to a division bench of the High Court against the order of the single-judge bench.
At the hearing on November 25, the division bench asked Malik for an assurance that he will not make statements about Sameer Wankhede and his family till December 9, which had then been set as the next date of hearing. Malik gave an undertaking to the court.
However, on December 7, Sameer Wankhede’s father told the Bombay High Court that despite the undertaking, Malik had made defamatory comments about his son and family in an interview to a newspaper.
The court had then asked the Maharashtra minister to explain why action should not be taken against him for the breach.
Following this, Malik offered an unconditional apology to the court on Friday, but said that his undertaking would not stop him from “commenting on the political misuse of central agencies and the conduct of their officers”, according to Live Law.
The politcian’s lawyer Aspi Chinoy told the court that he will not make comments about the caste and religion of Sameer Wankhede’s family members, Bar and Bench reported.
The Bombay High Court said Malik should use proper forums to speak about his grievances. “He is a minister not a layman,” the court said.