'Don't Involve Lawyers In Your Family Dispute' : Supreme Court On Lalit Modi's Social Media Post Against Mukul Rohatgi
As the Modi family feud escalates, the Supreme Court on Friday urged the founder of the Indian Premier League, Lalit Modi to take down social media posts made by him against his family members and also against Senior Advocate and former Attorney-General Mukul Rohatgi, who is representing his mother Bina Modi. While a bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna and M.M. Sundresh refused to pass a written order, Justice Khanna orally instructed Modi’s counsel Senior Advocate Harish Salve to use his ‘good office’ and advise his client to take ‘remedial measures’. “Whenever you start to fight like this in the public, it is always detrimental to both parties in any litigation. It only leads to retaliation in a similar manner. Parties are mature enough to understand not to give in to such outbursts. Remove all this,” the judge said. He added, “Your legal battle is entirely separate. But do not involve the lawyers in your battle.”
Salve informed the bench that the post made against Rohatgi has been taken down.
Last week, it was brought to the notice of the top court, which has been hearing Modi’s appeal over the maintainability of an anti-arbitration suit filed by his mother and his siblings, that the embattled businessman had lashed out against Rohatgi publicly. His outburst on social media was allegedly triggered by Rohatgi calling him a ‘fugitive’. Later, the former IPL commissioner apologised for his tirade on social media in a subsequent post on Instagram.
Taking severe objection to the allegations made by Modi, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal had urgently requested the bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud to pass appropriate orders directing Modi to take down the objectionable comments. “There was an undertaking given before the Court that no statements would be made on social media during the mediation. But scurrilous statements have been made against my colleague, Mukul Rohatgi. This cannot be allowed. It is a violation of this court's order,” Sibal had submitted. On Friday, Sibal voiced his concerns over the public remarks made against Rohatgi again and urged the court to issue directions to take down the controversial posts.
Salve, however, strongly asserted that there was no breach of a legal undertaking and that “the comments were personal and had nothing to do with the mediation. Modi’s mother has put all of the family members in such a condition…These are nothing but angry outbursts.”. Sibal protested, “These are not personal comments…Can anyone appreciate them?”
Salve informed the court that Ruchir Modi had been appointed as the head of the family as well as the beneficiary of the K.K. Modi Trust. “Lalit Modi’s condition is such that he has stepped aside and his son has now been officially appointed as the head of the family.” Justice Khanna said, “Please ask him to take remedial steps. We are not passing any orders.” “Fair enough,” said Salve, “The ‘lawyer’ comment has already been taken down.”
The original appeal emanates from an anti-arbitration suit that was filed by Modi’s mother Bina Modi, his sister Charu, and brother Samir restraining Modi from initiating arbitration proceedings in Singapore with respect to a vexatious property dispute, with a trust deed formulated by Modi’s father and prominent businessman, K.K. Modi, at its centre. The Supreme Court had earlier referred the parties to mediation. Today, the bench agreed to hear the merits of the matter.
Lalit Modi, currently residing in London, is wanted by domestic investigating agencies on several charges of corruption, tax evasion, and money laundering.
Lalit Kumar Modi v. Dr. Bina Modi & Ors. | Special Leave Petition (C) No. 1134-1135 of 2021