Former employee made defamatory statements and allegations on social media against his employer.
Based on a petition, the Court directed the employee to remove all defamatory posts.
The employee was also directed to refrain from posting or promoting any material on social media or print media pendant lite.
The Bombay High Court has acted swiftly in
restraining1 a former employee
("Defendant") from posting defamatory
content on social media against his employer. The Court also
directed the employee to remove all defamatory content already
posted on social media.
Though this order was passed at an interim stage, it is
encouraging to note the way the Court reacted quickly to prevent
further damage to the employer's reputation and business, since
the employee's comments did not fall within the realm of
The Defendant was employed by a group entity of Tata, one of
India's largest business groups. After termination of the
Defendant's employment, the Defendant made various complaints
to certain employees, investors, journalists and media houses.
The Defendant also made allegations against the employer through
various social media platforms such as posts on his Facebook page,
the employer's Facebook page and on Twitter. The employer
attempted to placate the Defendant by conducting settlement
discussions - however, it appears that the discussions were
inconclusive due to certain demands by the Defendant.
The employer argued that the posts made on social media by the
Defendant were per se defamatory and that there was no
genuine or fair comment by the Defendant. The Defendant's
comments were a result of his discontentment on the termination of
his employment. The employer also brought before the court evidence
that monetary demands were made by the Defendant in relation to the
termination of his employment.
The Court agreed with the employer's views and noted that
the Defendant had, in his posts on social media, made allegations
that the employer had engaged in unethical conduct. The Court could
not find any reason to believe that these comments were made in
good faith. Further, the Court felt that the allegations appeared
to be made to satisfy a personal vendetta. The Court also took into
account the conduct of the Defendant during settlement discussions
between the parties.
Accepting the contentions of the employer, the Court found that
a prima facie case was made out for the grant of a
restraining order preventing the Defendant from "issuing,
disseminating or communicating any defamatory statements"
against the employer, its employees or companies that were a part
of the Tata Group. Further, the Court directed the Defendant to
remove all defamatory material including Facebook comments and
tweets on Twitter, and restrained the Defendant from posting any
material in social media or print media during the pendency of the
The Indian legal position on defamation2 has broadly
adopted the rule in Bonnard v Perryman3("Bonnard") wherein it
was held that a court would have to be cautious while interfering
with a person's right to free speech or fair criticism by way
of an injunction. The court noted in Bonnard "Until it is
clear that an alleged libel is untrue, it is not clear that any
right at all has been infringed; and the importance of leaving free
speech unfettered is a strong reason in cases of libel for dealing
most cautiously and warily with the granting of interim
In the present case, an injunction was granted since the Court
was of the opinion that the Defendant's allegations were not
made in good faith. Another aspect considered by the Court was that
damage to a person's reputation could not be made good through
monetary compensation; therefore the plaintiff's freedom of
speech would have to be curtailed by way of an injunction.
This order sheds light on how companies can deal with the
defamatory content posted by employees on social media.
1 Tata Value Homes Ltd v. Nityanand Sinha, Suit (L) No.
1040 of 2015, Bombay High Court, Order passed on October 08,
2 Khushwant Singh v. Maneka Gandhi AIR 2002 Delhi
3 (1891) 2 Ch. 269
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On 31 December 2015 the President gave his assent to certain amendments to the Payment of Bonus Act, 1965. The amendments have increased the wage threshold for determining applicability of the Act from INR 10,000 to INR 21,000 per month.
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