Libel case against neighbor: Court rejects Salman’s plea with costs

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Mumbai– In a huge loss of face for Bollywood actor Salman Khan, a Mumbai court has rejected his interim plea for a ‘gag order’ in a defamation suit against his NRI neighbour, along with costs.

The verdict of Bombay City Civil and Sessions Court Judge A.H. Laddhad, rejecting Salman’s plea against his neighbour Ketan R. Kakkad, with social media giants like Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, Sandeep Phogat, Paras Bhat and Ujjwal Narain as parties, was pronounced on March 23 and the detailed order came out on Wednesday.

Judge Laddhad rejected Salman’s notice of motion awarding costs to Kakkad and disposed of the matter.

Referring to the alleged utterances against Salman by viewers on social media, the court said the plaintiff failed to explain that these pertained to him or how they related to him.

The judge also said on perusal of some of the social media posts/videos transcripts, he found that they were not “entirely not defamatory per se”.

The court referred to some of the posts like “rapists of nature”, “white terror”, “loot-atyachara, “naked dance by Miya Salman Khan”, “mega-corruption” etc. purportedly tweeted by Kakkad, and statements by some journalists comparing Salman with the Taliban, how the actor was “mafia”, “bully terrorising the locals”, “fudging records”, etc. that were produced by the actor’s team.

In contrast, the verdict noted that Kakkad had placed on record evidences like complaints and show-cause notices to Salman about the allegations of encroachments by the latter in his Panvel property, the 100-acres Arpita Farms, in public interest as a “whistle-blower”.

Incidentally, Kakkad has already complained about these to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other bigwigs in Maharashtra, but had got no respite nor allowed to enter his property which is adjacent at a higher level with Salman’s Arpita Farms since the past few years.

At the preliminary stage of the defamation suit, Judge Laddhad found Kakkad’s plea of justification as more probable than Khan’s prima facie case, as the former had come with specific material to defend himself.

The order mentions issues raised by Salman against his neighbour like building a gate to block Kakkad’s entry to his property to which there was no denial, accusing the actor of “raping mother nature” with illegal constructions on Arpita Farms, keeping wild animals illegally and more.

Plus, there were claims of links with the mafia ‘D-Company’ and keeping a “gang” of absconding don Dawood Ibrahim Kaskar on his property, speculation of drug/child trafficking, organ trafficking, dead body found on his property, using explosives, influencing officials to stall Kakkad’s works, attempting to “communalise” the issue and connect Sushant Singh Rajput’s death with Khan’s Panvel property.

The verdict speaks of Kakkad’s social media statements of 265 acres of land sold to one company, political links extending to Dubai, Bahrain, grabbing not only his (Kakkad’s) money but of thousands of other NRIs, how Salman had invited former BJP Minister Sudhir Mungantiwar though Kakkad’s complaint against the actor was pending, comparisons with Emperor Babur or Emperor Aurangzeb, but the court said it was not clear nor was Khan’s name mentioned.

On the Rajput death episode, the court said that Kakkad was expressing his opinion but he had not named Salman, his farmhouse or that the actor was involved in the (Rajput) death case.

During the hearings, the judge noted that the social media giants and the others had pleaded how they were unnecessarily dragged into the Kakkad matter by Salman though they had nothing to do with both the parties and had sought their names to be deleted, as the case became one of the most avidly-monitored globally.

Stung by the contentions of Salman, Kakkad later indicated that he is contemplating filing a counter-defamation case against the actor and is seeking legal advice in the matter. (IANS)



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