The Bombay High Court observed on Tuesday that “prima facie” (on the face of it) state minister and NCP leader Nawab Malik had “wilfully breached” his undertaking given to the court that he will refrain from making statements against Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) zonal director Sameer Wankhede and his family.
A division bench of justices Shahrukh Kathawalla and Milind Jadhav observed: “Before we take any action against respondent Nawab Malik, we direct him to file his affidavit setting out as to why action should not be taken against him for wilful breach of statement.”
The HC has asked him to file an affidavit by the next date of hearing, which is December 10.
Before directing Malik to file an affidavit, the judges questioned whether he was making the statements in his individual capacity or as a spokesperson for his party.
“If it is in his individual capacity then we will call him here. We will issue summons. Let him come and explain,” said justice Kathawalla.
Initially, Malik’s counsel Karl Tamboly, had said that the minister had made the statements in his individual capacity. However, following the court's strong observations, Tamboly said that Malik had made the statements in his capacity as a spokesperson of the NCP.
On November 29, the HC had quashed the order of a single judge by consent after Malik gave an undertaking that he would not make any defamatory statements against Wankhedes till a decision on Dnyandev Wankhede’s defamation suit which has sought damages of Rs 1.25 crore from the minister.
Birendra Saraf, counsel for Dnyandev, argued that despite giving an assurance to the court, Malik has made defamatory statements against Wankhedes on at least two occasions. Saraf pointed out that Malik had posted statements on his social media account reiterating his comments about Sameer Wankhede’s trip aboard and commented about his actions.
Saraf said that in one such incident, Malik has said that Sameer Wankhede wants to extort money from famous people. “We went to Chaityabhoomi. He (Malik) writes – I saw you (Wankhede) reading namaz with me but I have never seen you at chaityabhoomi,” argued Saraf.
On a court query, Tamboly said that Malik operated the social media account as his personal account.
To this justice Jadhav said: “It is serious. If he had given undertaking (to the court) he should not have said it. It infringes our order. What is this?”
The HC noted in its order that Malik had given a statement on November 25 and later on November 29 that he would refrain from making statements against Wankhedes till the defamation was decided.
Malik too had challenged the order of the single judge which, although did not restrain him, had observed that his tweets “actuated out of malice” and were posted on social media without carrying out reasonable verification.