New Delhi: Taking cognisance of the defamation complaint filed by NSA Ajit Doval’s son Vivek Doval against a news magazine for allegedly publishing a defamatory article, a Delhi court Tuesday posted the matter for next week.
Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Samar Vishal posted the matter against The Caravan for January 30 when the statement of witnesses named by Doval will be recorded. Besides Doval, there are two other witnesses — his friend Nikhil Kapoor and business partner Amit Sharma.
Doval had moved court against the magazine, the author of the article Kaushal Shroff and Congress leader Jairam Ramesh for holding a press conference on January 17 reiterating the “baseless and unfounded facts” as narrated in the article.
The Caravan, had in its January 16 online write-up titled, The D Companies, had said that Doval, “runs a hedge fund in the Cayman Islands” which is “an established tax haven” and was “registered merely 13 days after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government demonetised all existing Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 currency notes, in 2016”.
Doval had claimed in his complaint that the magazine was ‘deliberately maligning and defaming’ him to ‘settle scores with his father’. He had alleged that the contents of the article present ‘no illegality’ on his part, but the entire narration has been presented in a manner, which suggests ‘wrongdoings’ to the readers.
“The very arrangement of the paragraphs and the interspersion of random paragraphs has been done with the very purpose of confusing the reader and leaving him with the belief that there is a larger conspiracy at play, being spearheaded by the Complainant,” the complaint had said.
It had also said that the social media tweets put out by the magazine’s handle gave snippets from the article, which makes it clear that it is merely a targeted attempt to malign and tarnish reputation of Doval and his family, in order to gain “political credit in light of the upcoming general election”.
“The title of the article itself is scandalous to say the least… creating prejudice in the minds of the readers against the Complainant and his family,” the complaint had said.
It had further said that a questionnaire was sent to Doval and his elder brother on a social networking site seeking details while vaguely mentioning that it is in regard to a story being done by the magazine.
“It is pertinent to mention that such questionnaire somehow could not be accessed and it vanished all of a sudden from the Facebook messenger of the complainant. As per information of the complainant, the elder brother of the complainant accessed his email only after the publication of the article on January 16 and the press conference on January 17,” the complaint had alleged.
It had further alleged that there was no phone call seeking any clarification from him or his elder brother, which makes it clear that the questionnaire was a “mere eyewash done to complete the formality” as a defence of any criminal action as the accused had knowledge that the “imputations are per se defamatory and false”.
With regard to Ramesh, the complaint had said that the press conference addressed by him went “beyond the mere narration in the article” and that he was already geared and armed to launch an attack, “merely waiting for the publication of the article”, which could then provide a “smokescreen to the otherwise targeted and deliberate attack on the reputation of the complainant and his family”.
It had said that the article has been used as a political tool to “foster in unscrupulous hands” to “seek vendetta and wreak vengeance”.
The complaint had also said that the author of the article has claimed to have accessed numerous documents and there are “crucial pieces of information that is conveniently claimed to not be accessible to the author”.
“The true facts of the matter, that is the history and background of the Complainant and his business ventures, as have been sufficiently detailed, ample evidence that the author has deliberately and selectively left out or claimed certain vital pieces of information as inaccessible, which would otherwise bring to the fore the legality and propriety of the business venture of the complainant,” the complaint had alleged.
It had also said that the very act of setting up and launching of a hedge fund, whether in the Cayman Islands or any other place in the world, is not by itself an illegal and unlawful act.
“However, the same, even without explicitly so stating, has been portrayed in a manner that leads to the very setting up and launching of the hedge fund being perceived as an unlawful act,” it had said.
The complaint had alleged that “a web of conjectures and surmises has been devised by selective and careful nitpicking of random facts in respect of the complainant, his brother and his father – the facts being completely unrelated to one another – and presenting them in a manner that hints at deep-rooted conspiracies between the family members, in carrying out laundering of black money, by rerouting of funds into India through the Cayman Islands, in the post-demonetization era”.
It had further said: “While there may be no explicit allegation so worded or phrased, to that extent, a number of questions to that effect have been raised, insinuating and imputing such wrongdoings, which leaves the public with a certain negative perception of the actions of the complainant and his family members, which perception was the anticipated and calculated reaction that the very questions, insinuations and imputations were aimed at.”