The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined the appeal of Mint newspaper in relation to its alleged defamatory article against YouTuber Gaurav Taneja, saying people, including influencers can be criticised for their opinions, actions but their children or family members should not be dragged into it.
A Division Bench headed by Justice Siddharth Mridul remarked that journalistic freedom cannot be extended to people’s houses and making comments on their families, reiterating an earlier observation of the single-bench, wherein the court said calling someone a ‘child abuser’ without proof is offensive.
The bench also comprising Justice Amit Sharma said: “Say what you will about the man, criticise his actions, his speech but don’t visit his children with these remarks.”
The court was hearing the appeal moved by Hindustan Times (HT) Media Limited, owner of the Mint newspaper, against a July 27 order, in which Justice Amit Bansal directed the media outlet to take down an article against Taneja, popularly known as ‘Flying Beast.’
On May 1, Taneja’s tweet had led to a lot of discussions and debates on social media. It said: “Hinduism is a science based way of life. On 3 Dec 1984, two families remained unaffected from the Bhopal gas leak. They performed regular (hawan), which is a natural antidote to pollution.”
Later, a Mint journalist retweeted this tagging some global brands and questioning their association with him.
On May 8, the article on Mint titled “Shouldn’t brands stop supporting sordid influencers?”, made allegations of misogyny, child abuse and pet abuse against Tanjeja, by referring to his videos.
After hearing the submissions, Justice Amit Bansal had observed: “Piercing the ears of a girl child cannot be termed as child abuse. Allegations of child abuse are serious allegations and cannot be made without due care and verification. It cannot be based on the opinions of the author.
“Undoubtedly, a person has a right to criticise the views expressed by another individual and such criticism would be covered under the right to free speech. However, vicious attacks cannot be made on the character of a person under the guise of journalistic freedom and free speech. In my prima facie view, there is nothing in the aforesaid videos to substantiate allegations of child abuse,” the court said, restraining the Mint from posting, circulating or publishing the article and directing to take down it from its online platform.