Delhi HC Seeks Rana Kapoor’s Stand on Plea Over Publication of Book

The Delhi High Court on Thursday sought the stand of former Yes Bank CEO Rana Kapoor on a plea by publishing company Penguin Random House against an order restraining sale of the book titled “The Banker Who Crushed His Diamonds: The YES Bank Story”.

Justice Manoj Kumar Ohri issued notice on Penguin’s appeal against a trial court order passed in January and asked Kapoor, who is facing proceedings for his alleged involvement in an alleged scam at the bank, to file his response.

Kapoor had approached the trial court against the sale of the book written by Furquan Moharkan and published by Penguin on the ground that it was defamatory.

On January 28, the trial court confirmed its earlier ex parte interim order passed in December 2021 preventing the publishing, sale, and circulation etc of the book while also injuncting a film stated to be based on it.

Before the high court, the publishing house contended the trial court failed to appreciate that Kapoor approached the trial court in December 2021, months after the publication of the book in February 2021 amidst widespread publicity, which would have disentitled him from obtaining a discretionary and equitable remedy.

It also said the allegedly objectionable content is in the nature of fair comment in public interest, based on multiple newspaper reports in the public domain.

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The publishing house argued in the appeal that Kapoor “fraudulently obtained an exparte ad-interim injunction through material suppression of facts and selectively misquoting portions of the book, without providing the entire context”.

It also said the book represents Penguin’s right to free speech and the author’s right to fair comment and, if the relief sought by Kapoor are permitted, it would have a “chilling effect on the future publication of books based on investigative journalism and shrink the space for contested debate about important public issues”.

“Authors and publishers will be hesitant to go ahead with publishing any books dealing with issues of public interest of immediate importance, especially if they concern an important public figure who may be embroiled in controversy or face criminal charges,” it said.

The appeal also said the trial court erred in holding that the book “crucified” Kapoor’s reputation as it failed to appreciate his “pre-existing reputation” at the time of filing the suit in December 2021.

The matter will be heard next in July.

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