In a landmark judgement, on 26th April, 2019, Justice Gautam Patel struck down an injuction request by Lodha Group against Mr Krishnaraj Rao. This ruling was made in an ongoing defamation lawsuit filed by Lodha Group
It all started with a viral video of a man punching a wall which resulted in the cracking of it. The clip was uploaded by Krishnaraj Rao an activist and friend of home owner, Shilpi Thard. Ms Thard had been actively uploading videos with her friend to show the low quality of her home at New Cuffe Parade, established in Wadala’s Lodha Group complex. Lodha had then filed a defamation suit on Jan. 17, 2019 accusing Ms Thard as being a “blackmailer and an extortionist”.
In the subsequent hearings, Lodha made an allegation of malice, stating that “Mr Rao is a busybody who habitually publishes negative articles and videos against select developers and then hints at blackmail.” The basis of their case was that Mr Rao and Ms Thard published material that is defamatory, false and untrue. They maintained that there is nothing wrong with the flats purchased by the defendant and that Lodha has fully complied with any rectification work, which in itself was minor and not that unusual. Therefore, they claimed to be “the aggrieved innocent victims of a smear campaign and the published material is the handiwork of extortionists whose demands have not been met.”
Judge [Gautam] Patel [ruled] saying, “The plaint suggests that nothing that was stated in this material was true, and almost the wholeof it was defamatory; what was true was trivial and was in the nature of routine rectification. Prima facie that does not appear to be so, and Lodha must be held to have failed to make out a prima facie case even on these five statements to which Lodha has now limited its injunction application.”
The court also went on to address the issue of YouTube and social media, since Mr Rao’s form of journalism is not in the more traditional form of print. Justice Patel smartly questioned, “what of that? Does it make the slightest difference? There is no different standard of law that applies to online journalism or comment.”