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Kirit Somaiya and Nawab Malik   

Maharashtra’s New Pastime Amid Gossips Galore: Slapping Rs 100-Cr Defamation Suit

In Maharashtra’s political arena it is raining Rs 100-crore defamation suits. State Transport Minister Anil Parab sought Rs 100-crore damages from BJP leader Kirit Somaiya over allegedly defamatory tweets. This was followed by former Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis’ wife Amruta seeking damages from Skill Development & Entrepreneurship Minister Nawab Malik for tweeting pictures of her with an alleged drug peddler. More followed. Controversial Narcotics Control Bureau officer Sameer Wankhede’s father filed a Rs 1.25-crore defamation suit against Malik to stop daily tweets and disclosures against his son and family. Even former Chief Minister and current Revenue Minister Ashok Chavan against whom Somaiya went gun blazing told, “Wild allegations were levelled without consideration for facts. I will consider all legal options at an appropriate time.” This brings to fore why people file defamation suits? Is it to put pressure on the rival camps or the media? Do they yield results? Senior counsel Prakash Devdas says, “Most high profile defamation suits see no logical outcome.” Advocate Apoorv Srivastava says, “Defamation is a retrograde law. Journalists, academics, legislators, and bloggers realize lawsuits are used by corporations, businesses, and public officials to silence, intimidate and control the truth.” Truth is, while criminal defamation suits are fast-tracked, civil cases drag on for nearly 25 years. In most suits, both parties lose interest after the controversy dissipates and amicably settle out of court.