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'A Person Who Is An MLA, A Party Spokesperson Has To Be More Careful' : Bombay HC To Nawab Malik While Reserving Order In Wankhede's Defamation Suit

Sharmeen Hakim
12 Nov 2021 4:39 PM GMT
A Person Who Is An MLA, A Party Spokesperson Has To Be More Careful : Bombay HC To Nawab Malik While Reserving Order In Wankhedes Defamation Suit
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Highest degree of verification is expected from an MLA, the Court said.

The Bombay High Court on Friday observed that the highest degree of verification is required from a state minister and prima facie there are interpolations in NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede's birth certificate uploaded by Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik. "So where is the due care and attention (before posting) when the document itself appears to be interpolated?,"...

The Bombay High Court on Friday observed that the highest degree of verification is required from a state minister and prima facie there are interpolations in NCB Zonal Director Sameer Wankhede's birth certificate uploaded by Maharashtra Cabinet Minister Nawab Malik.

"So where is the due care and attention (before posting) when the document itself appears to be interpolated?," Justice Madhav Jamdar repeatedly asked Malik's counsels before reserving orders on interim reliefs in Wankhede's father's defamation suit.

Wankhede's father Dhyandev had filed the suit and sought Rs. 1.25 crore in damages for defaming him and his family, and ad-interim directions to restrain Malik or anyone acting on his behalf from posting anything "defamatory" against them.

On Monday, the Bombay High Court asked Malik to demonstrate he verified the authenticity of Wankhede's birth certificate. Malik said he reasonably verified the information.

Malik tweeted the birth certificate to show that Sameer Wankhede, despite being born a Muslim secured a central government job claiming to be from the scheduled caste.

However, Justice Jamdar orally observed that the birth certificate was the only public document Malik was relying on to substantiate his allegations and the document had interpolations.

The court observed that the degree of verification would be different for a lay man, a journalist and for an advocate, "But the level of verification from a person who is an MLA should be of the highest grade…. According to your own affidavit you are a member of the assembly and the spokesperson of a political party. You should be more careful."

Senior Advocate Atul Damle asserted that he tweeted from the available government records but accepted that the way "Sameer" and "Muslim" were written in the birth certificate differed. Moreover, "Dawood" was cancelled to be corrected to "Dhyandev."

Advocate Arshad Shakih for the Wankhedes placed 28 documents on record, including caste certificates, passport, Sameer Wankhede's school leaving certificate etc to show that his name was "Dhyandev" and he was from the Mahar community.

However, Shaikh said Dhyandev neither has the original nor does he have a photocopy of the contentious birth certificate.

Referring to Malik's tweet on birth certificate of Sameer Wankhede, Shaikh said, "Should he not show how he reasonably verified a photocopy before tarnishing my reputation? Even if the birth certificate ought to be true, you knew Dawood's name was rectified in it as Dhyandev in the corner of same document. So of all the documents, you just take one single document with interpolations."

Shaikh said the nikahnama of Sameer Wankhede's first marriage was a private document and could not be relied on.

Even if I am Sameer Wankhede I have a private life

Shaikh referred to SC's Puttaswamy judgement on right to privacy to say that the information Malik was posting had got nothing to do with his official duty. "Even if I am Sameer Wankhede I have a private life."

 Shaikh pointed out to certain comments on LiveLaw's tweets to show the impact of Malik's allegations on public perception of the Wankhedes. 

"One says Dawood Wankhede files defamation suit. Another says "only Rs. 1.25 crore suit? People seem to have come to a conclusion I am Dawood and I have a lot of money."

Lastly, Shaikh contended that everything Malik tweeted was politically motivated and to avenge the incarceration of his son-in-law:

"In conclusion, it is my contention that because his son- in- law was arrested and he was not able to get bail for 8 months, till Sep, for the purpose of hitting back and tainting the actions of my son the tirade was started. A perceptions is tried to be created that Sameer Wankhede is an extortionist and the family is 'bogus'.

Now he is attacking the Ex-CM (Devendra Fadnavis) and his wife. I am not from BJP or Congress. But I wanted to show that apart from clearing the name of the son-in-law this is a clearly politically motivated vendetta."

After hearing the counsels at length the court reserved the plea for orders.


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