Google has complied with the legal directives to remove one link on allegedly objectionable content about Union minister Smriti Irani and her daughter Zoish Irani, the search engine told the Delhi High Court on Monday, PTI reported.
The court was hearing a defamation suit filed by the minister.
The controversy erupted after Goa Excise Commissioner Narayan M Gad issued a show cause notice to Silly Souls Café and Bar in Assagao. On July 23, the Congress demanded Irani’s resignation, alleging that Zoish Irani ran the restaurant. It referred to reports claimed that the minister’s daughter had obtained an illegal liquor licence for the restaurant.
However, on July 29, the High Court observed on a prima facie basis that Smriti Irani and Zoish Irani are not the owners of the Silly Souls Café and Bar. The court had also directed social media platforms to remove content about the allegations, and videos and posts that had morphed photos of Irani and her daughter.
On Monday, Google sought a modification in the order, saying that it was not an adjudicating authority, and could not decide on what was to be removed. Advocate Arvind Nigam, representing Google, told the court that Irani had only provided one link to the search engine, which has been disabled.
He added that Google will be able to take action against other online posts only if the minister could provide a list of allegedly objectionable links.
The court sought Smriti Irani’s response to the application filed by Google, ANI reported.
In its July 29 order, the Delhi High Court had also ordered three Congress leaders to remove, within 24 hours, allegedly defamatory social media posts related to the Iranis. The judge also issued notices to party leaders Pawan Khera, Jairam Ramesh and Netta D’ Souza seeking their reply on the civil defamation suit filed by the Union minister.
The Goa excise department issued the show cause notice based on a complaint by lawyer Aires Rodrigues.
The licence was allegedly registered in the name of a Mumbai resident identified as Anthony Dgama. However, Gad’s notice said that the liquor licence was renewed in June, even though Dgama died on May 17, 2021.
Zoish Irani’s lawyer Kirat Nagra has claimed that his client neither owns nor operates the restaurant. Nagra also said that his client had only done an internship with the chef of Silly Souls Cafe.
As Irani denied owning the establishment, Congress leader Khera referred to a Moneycontrol article – a review of the restaurant by food critic Kunal Vijayakar that had named the minister’s daughter as its owner. Smriti Irani had shared the review on her Instagram handle, saying she was “so proud”.
Days after the Delhi High Court observed that the Iranis did not own the restaurant, an investigation by The Indian Express cited company records to show that three members of Union minister’s family may be linked to the outlet.