Mumbai: The Bombay High Court has stated that it lacks jurisdiction to hear the defamation suit filed by Zilingo founder Ankiti Bose, seeking a permanent restraining order against Inc42 journalist Nikhil Subramaniam and NDTV News Networks Limited for allegedly publishing defamatory statements about Bose in any manner.
Bose had filed the suit against the journalist and the media company regarding an article published against her.
Investigations into financial irregularities
In March 2022, Bose was suspended as the chief executive officer (CEO) of Zilingo amidst investigations into the company's financial irregularities. Following her suspension, Bose claimed that attempts were made to remove her from the company, which itself entered into liquidation in January. Around that time, articles were published that indirectly referred to her.
Justice SM Modak, on October 16, dismissed Bose's suit, citing "inconsistency" in her pleadings. The court, however, allowed her the freedom to file proceedings before the appropriate court.
Initially, Bose had argued that the Bombay HC had jurisdiction since the cause of action arose in Mumbai. The defendants objected to the suit being filed in Mumbai. Bose, an Indian national residing in Singapore, later contended that only a part of the cause of action occurred in Mumbai. She claimed that the defamatory article was accessed by her family, friends, her father Uday Bose, and potential investors and business associates Anand Singh and Shailesh Haribhakti. Her father Uday Bose, a permanent resident of Mumbai, read the online article in Mumbai.
Bench observes inconsistency in Plaintiff's pleadings
The court noted, "There is every reason to believe that this pleading in the Petition is made after the Defendants have objected to the jurisdiction of this Court. It gains importance. There is no explanation offered as to why the subsequent averment was not made when the Suit was filed."
Justice Modak remarked, "There is inconsistency between the pleadings of the Plaintiff about the cause of action... So, for all these reasons, the claim for the grant of leave cannot be considered."
The court returned the suit for presentation before the Appropriate Court and granted Bose the liberty to approach the court with territorial jurisdiction.