NCP leader and Maharashtra Minister Nawab Malik today tendered an unconditional apology to the Bombay High Court for making public comments about NCB official Sameer Wankhede and his family despite an assurance that he would not do so.
Senior Counsel Aspi Chinoy, who appeared for Malik, submitted an affidavit by the Minister where he apologized for having violated the Court's November 29 order.
It was not his intention to dishonour the Court by breaching his own undertaking, Malik said in the affidavit filed before the Bench of Justice S J Kathawalla and Justice Milind Jadhav.
But he also contended that he made the comments in question during an interview and they were not part of social media posts, or public comments.
"I offer my unconditional apology to this court in terms of breaches of the undertaking given on November 25 and November 29," he said in the affidavit.
He will not make any personal comments about the Wankhede family until the High Court heard the defamation suit filed against him by Sameer Wankhede's father Dnyandev, the Minister said.
"I, however, believe my statement will not prevent me from commenting on the political misuse of central agencies, and the conduct of their officers in the course of performance of their official duties hereafter," the affidavit added.
The High Court accepted Malik's apology.
It also took note of the objection raised by Dnyandev Wankhede's Lawyer, Senior Counsel Birendra Saraf, about Malik's statement that he can still comment on the conduct of `officials of Central agencies'.
Malik must not misuse this part of the affidavit to continue making defamatory statements against Sameer Wankhede (who is Mumbai zonal director of the Narcotics Control Bureau), Saraf said.
Advocate Chinoy said his client will not make any personal comments against the officer.
"I (Malik) am not saying anything about his (Sameer Wankhede's) personal life. His religion, caste, holidays... I am not interested," the Lawyer said.
The High Court accepted Chinoy's statement but also made it clear that Malik shall not make any comments on Sameer Wankhede's past conduct in discharge of official duty. Any comments must be restricted to the present or future, the Court said.
The Court also suggested that counsels of both the parties must advise them to "put an end to this."
Chinoy said he wished he could, but the issue was "very complex."
On November 29, the Division Bench had quashed the November 22 order of a Single Judge who had refused to restrain the minister from making defamatory statements against the Wankhedes while the defamation suit was heard.
Malik then gave an undertaking that he will not make public statements or post anything on social media against the Wankhede family.
The Court also asked Dnyandev Wankhede to file a rejoinder (additional) affidavit by January 3, 2022.
Dnyandev has filed a defamation suit against Malik and sought damages of Rs 1.25 crore, alleging that the NCP leader launched a smear campaign against his family after Malik's son-in-law was arrested by the NCB in a drugs case earlier this year.
Today, the High Cout extended the time granted to Malik to file his affidavit before the Single Bench up to Tuesday.
With PTI inputs