The Delhi High Court on Monday sought union minister Smriti Irani’s response to an application moved by Google stating that it cannot remove the alleged defamatory content against her in connection with Silly Souls Café and Bar on Youtube on its own without it being provided the links of those videos.
Justice Mini Pushkarna in the order passed last month had directed Congress leaders Jairam Ramesh, Pawan Khera and Netta D’Souza to delete and remove their posts on social media against Irani. The court had further directed Google, Twitter and Meta to remove such content “or anything similar thereto” from their platforms.
Senior advocate Arvind Nigam along with advocate Mamta Jha, appearing for Google, Monday submitted that the plaintiff needs to provide it the URLs of the content, which is required to be taken off from YouTube in accordance with the court order. “If we have doubts [about content removal request], we will inform the plaintiff and then the plaintiff can approach the court [for clarification],” submitted Jha, while presenting to the bench previous court orders where such procedure has been followed.
Jha contended that social media intermediaries “are not adjudicating bodies” and cannot decide what is “similar content”. She further argued that the plaintiff is under an obligation to give links to Google for further action. The application was opposed by Irani’s lawyer.
Nigam told the court that only one URL was provided to Google and the same has been disabled in accordance with the court order. The court was told that Irani may provide more URLs to Google and action shall be taken as and when they are received. Google’s counsel further told the court that it should be saved from any contempt action.
In the order directing the Congress leaders to delete the alleged defamatory content including the video of the press conference held on July 23, the court had observed that neither the restaurant nor the land on which it exists is owned by Irani and her daughter.
“Considering the documents on record it is clearly seen that there was no licence which was ever issued in favour of the plaintiff or her daughter. The plaintiff or her daughter are not the owners of the restaurant. It has also been established by the plaintiff prima facie that the plaintiff or her daughter never applied for licence,” said the court in the order dated July 29.
It further said, “Neither the restaurant nor the land on which the restaurant exists is owned by the plaintiff or her daughter even the show cause notice issued by the Government of Goa is not in the name of the plaintiff or her daughter. All these facts have also been affirmed in the affidavit by the plaintiff.”
In their press conference last month, the Congress accused Irani’s daughter of running the restaurant in Goa “illegally”, with the bar licence procured “fraudulently” in the name of a deceased person. The Congress also had demanded the resignation of Irani from the Union Cabinet.
Irani’s suit alleges that the Congress leaders “conspired with each other and with unknown individuals/ organisations to launch a tirade of false, scathing and belligerent personal attacks” against her and her daughter “with the common motive to malign, defame and injure” their reputation, moral character and public image.