Monday, 16 November 2015

Bombay high court bars ex-Tata general manager from boss bashing on Facebook

The Tata group has gained the primary spherical of a authorized skirmish with a former high-rating worker who took to social media to allegedly defame his employer after his providers have been terminated. The Bombay high court, which dominated within the firm’s favour, has imposed a reasonably complete gag order on the disgruntled employee, asking him to take away all materials deemed libelous and forbidding him from making any disparaging remarks a few broad part of Tata staff.The provocateur, Nityanand Sinha, a former general manager at HL Homes, a joint venture company of one of the Tata Housing firms, has been directed by Justice Gautam Patel to refrain from issuing derogatory statements about the firm in the future.

The breadth of this includes "then directors, principal officers, agents, representatives, employees, servants, clients, business associates, business partners, companies forming a part of the Tata group of companies". The vehicle and its intended destination too receive the court's attention. Sinha cannot defame those mentioned above "by way of emails, letters, SMSes, social media posts, websites, newspapers print or electronic, or in any other manner whatsoever, to any third parties/ general public including but not limited to newspaper editors, journalists, clients, business associates/ business partners of the Plaintiffs/Tata group of companies or any other third parties/ general public".

Sinha was posted as general manager last year in a realty venture called New Haven, spread over 21 acres in Haryana. He was asked to leave in June this year as "his services were found to be unsatisfactory". It was a few weeks after this termination that he took to social media against the company and its working with respect to the project.

The suit filed by the Tata group company, which was represented in the hearing by Advocate Tushar Cooper and law firm India Law, alleges that Sinha posted derogatory write ups about the company to Facebook and Twitter, and sent emails to the company's investors/ financiers as well.

"The defendant (Sinha) has inundated various officials of the plaintiffs with emails complaining about his termination. The defendant, however, did not restrict his communications to the plaintiffs but also circulated emails to various journalists and representatives of media houses," the suit declares. The names of media houses mentioned in the suit, which were tagged in these posts, include established newspapers and news channels, both Indian and overseas.

The posts created by Sinha ascribe "unethical conduct" to the firm and accuse it of "trying to fleece innocent customers", which have been termed as untrue in the HC suit.

"There is generally a denigration of the plaintiffs' and of the Tata Group as a whole. There is nothing genuine about the posts. They do not fall within the realm of fair comment. They are defamatory and slanderous allegations, and arise from, and only from, the defendant's demonstrable disgruntlement, disaffection and hostility," says the document filed in court.

The judge, in passing the order against Sinha, observed, "This is no sense of journalism or fair reportage. The plaintiffs are not a public body to be held to have to prove a high standard of actual malice. I do not see how it is possible to conclude that the defendant's posts meet a good faith standard or can be said to have been made in the reasonable belief of their truth. They appear, prima facie, to be allegations levelled only to further a private agenda and a vendetta of some kind."
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