The Karnataka High Court on Tuesday modified a trial court order to suspend the account of hepatologist Cyriac Abby Philips – known as “The Liver Doc” – on microblogging platform X, reported Bar and Bench.
Justice SG Pandit allowed him to access his account after Philips gave an undertaking that he would temporarily take down allegedly defamatory posts against pharmaceutical company Himalaya Wellness till the case is pending in the courts.
The court issued a notice to X, formerly known as Twitter.
The social media company withheld Philip’s account on September 28 after Additional City Civil and Session Judge DP Kumaraswamy passed an ex-parte order directing the removal of his posts. An ex-parte order is one that is passed without all the parties to a litigation being present before the judge.
In a defamation suit against Phillips, Himalaya Wellness accused him of posting false derogatory statements about its products in order to promote the products of rival companies Cipla and Alchem.
At the hearing, Kumaraswamy had said that there was a need to issue an injunction against Phillips to minimise the damage caused to the company, including loss of reputation and money.
The court added that the doctor’s statements were doing a disservice to consumers who benefit from Himalaya products such as Liv-52.
On October 6, Phillipps moved the High Court, challenging Kumaraswamy’s orders.
Appearing for him, senior counsel Aditya Sondhi submitted that this “disproportionate, draconian order could not have been passed by the trial court”.
Upon the court’s question about what modifications are being sought to the order, Sondhi asked for the X account to be restored. “The nine offending tweets may be hidden,” he said.
The counsel, however, clarified that he was not conceding that the tweets were defamatory since Himalaya’s product in question was banned in the US.
The matter will be heard again in the second week of November.