Mumbai: In a setback for the Serum Institute of India (SII), the Bombay High Court (HC) on Wednesday refused to grant it immediate relief in its defamation suit seeking damages to the tune of Rs100 crore from organisations and individuals who were allegedly posting erroneous content against the company and its CEO Adar Poonawalla.
Justice NJ Jamadar said that the matter was bulky and it would not be possible to hear the parties in a day to grant urgent relief. The HC has kept the matter for hearing on Jan 3, 2023. The court, however, granted SII the liberty to approach the vacation bench in case of urgent relief.
SII's suit is against the defendants – Yohan Tengra and his organisation Anarchy for Freedom India, and Ambar Koiri and his organisation Awaken India Movement – who have been posting and circulating defamatory content against SII.
The suit emphasised that the defendants had also been posting incorrect information about the legal proceedings wherein SII was involved. It further elaborated that the defendants have been posting content alleging that the Covishield – the anti-Covid vaccine produced by the institute – caused the deaths of multiple persons due to side effects.
Apart from Rs100 crore as damages, the SII has sought an unconditional apology from the defendants. The suit has also sought an injunction against social media platforms such as YouTube and Twitter to take down the defamatory content and to ensure that no such content is published against SII in the future.
As an interim relief, the suit prayed that the defendants be temporarily restrained from publishing, circulating any content against SII or its employees. The defendants, through their advocates Nilesh Ojha and Tanveer Nizam, filed a reply seeking dismissal of the suit. They also sought prosecution of SII for making incorrect statements about the effects of the Covishield vaccine. The HC has asked SII to file its additional affidavit in response to the defendants' reply.
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