The Delhi High Court on Friday granted an ad-interim injunction and restrained the Publisher of the online news channel and website called Marunadan Malaylee from publishing or making "any comments/remarks in relation to" Chairman Of Lulu Group MA Yusuff Ali on any platform or social media including his YouTube channel till the next date of hearing. The High Court also directed Shajan Skariah who is the publisher of Marunadan Malayalee, a news website and youtube channel, to take down content against the Chairman of Lulu Group that is cited in the plaint.

Yusuff Ali is an NRI and the richest Keralite with a net worth of $5.4 billion according to the latest Forbes India Rich List 2022. Shajan Skariah is a digital media journalist with a huge following in Kerala.

The Bench of Justice Chandra Dhari Singh observed that "Upon a bare perusal of the contents of the plaint and the content posted by the defendant no.1 on record before this Court, a prima facie case is made out against the defendant no. 1". The High Court further noted that " In view of the prima facie case being made out as well as in the interest of protection of rights of the plaintiff, this Court is of the opinion that in the instant case, an ad-interim injunction merits to be granted".

Justice Singh in his order observed that "even though the right to free speech and expression is a fundamental tenet of liberty which is considered to be an indispensable part of an effective democracy, the same does not give an absolute right to abuse one’s freedom to defame others." The Court further said, "The law related to defamation is one such reasonable restriction on the freedom of speech as prescribed under the Constitution."

Appearing for the Lulu Group Founder, Senior Advocates Mukul Rohatgi and Saurabh Kirpal submitted that the online news channel Marunadan Malaylee is running an online defamatory campaign against the Plaintiff and is making ex-facie false and defamatory statements and comments regarding the Plaintiff online.

Though a lawyer appeared on behalf of Shajan Skariah, appearance was not given and hence not recorded in the order.

Plaintiff further submitted that the activities of Marunadan Malaylee are distasteful and have been done solely with the motive of maligning the reputation and fame enjoyed by Plaintiff. They also submitted that the Respondent News Channel has been publishing false and defamatory content about Plaintiff ever since 2013 on his website.

It was further submitted that the Subordinate Judge's Court, Ernakulam, Kerala had passed a detailed injunction order dated April 9, 2021, injuncting the Defendant herein from making and publishing false and defamatory statements, videos etc. against the Plaintiff and that another complaint was pending before the Additional Chief Judicial Magistrate-VIth, Lucknow seeking relief against the defamatory statements made by the Defendant and despite this, the Defendant continues to post defamatory and false content relating to the Plaintiff.

As per the submissions made, it was noted in the order that the chairman and Managing Director of the LuLu Group International is a non-resident Indian and is involved in many social, charitable and humanitarian activities in India as well as in the Gulf countries and that the Marunadan Malaylee is carrying out defamatory propaganda against the Plaintiff by making incorrect, false, concocted and inflammatory allegations against the Plaintiff in order to incite public sentiments against the Plaintiff.

The High Court accordingly directed Marunadan Malaylee to forthwith take down all/any content published by it on any platform/social media platforms including that of defendant no. 2 i.e. YouTube as mentioned in the plaint and restrained the journalist from using any platform/social media platforms including that of the defendant no. 2 i.e. YouTube for making any comments/remarks in relation to the plaintiff till the next date of hearing.

Cause Title: Yusuffali Musaliam Veettil Abdul Kader v. Shajan Skariah & Ors. [CS(COMM) 360/2023]

Click here to read/download the Order