Lawyer sends defamation notice to HT for reporting that expensive senior advocates appeared for his public sector client
Advocate Kartik Seth warned the Hindustan Times (HT) of criminal defamation charges that he would press against the newspaper for reporting that a battery of expensive senior advocates had been briefed in the case of Seth’s client, who is a government employee.
Seth, who is acting for Arun Kumar Mishra – the chief engineer of the Uttar Pradesh State Industrial Development Corporation (UPSIDC) – sent a civil and criminal defamation notice to HT, claiming that its report titled “UP babu accused of corruption has Rs 1L pay, hires top lawyers Rohatgi, Sorabjee”, is “malicious” and cast “aspersions on the integrity” of his client.
The HT report states:
In August 2014, Mishra was dismissed from UPSIDC on the orders of Allahabad high court for getting his job on forged degrees. But he moved the Supreme Court challenging the high court’s decision.
In the high court, he was defended by Shanti Bhushan, who apparently would fly down to Allahabad whenever there was a hearing, sources said. Soli Sorabjee, Harish Salve, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Gopal Subramaniam, Nageshwar Rao, Shanti Bhushan argued against his dismissal, at different stages, in the Supreme Court, which stayed the high court’s order. Mishra rejoined as UPSIDC chief engineer within a month, in September 2014.
Rohatgi, now the country’s attorney general, appeared for Mishra in the SC in the case related to the CBI probe against him.
Seth has claimed in the notice that the HT report indicates that his client could not have paid the senior advocates’ professional fees in the salary which he earns, and has said:
Before jumping to conclusions and casting aspersions on my client, you should have at least brushed up your knowledge about client-attorney privilege which includes non-disclosure of professional fees charged by the lawyer to his clients.
Seth added that the senior advocates mentioned in the HT report “have been kind enough” to his client to represent him “in various foras at a heavily discounted rate considering his service strata and his reputation and record in State of Uttar Pradesh”.
Seth commented in an email to us: “This article is clearly defamatory in nature against my client and hence this notice was of utmost importance to clearly establish the fact that not only the said national daily has defamed my client but has also misused the name of the senior advocates who have appeared on his behalf.”
“It is also important to note that there have been six Supreme Court judges who have recused from the matter of my client which is pending in Supreme Court, the names of the judges are: Justice Sikri, Justice Bobde, Justice Agarwal, Justice Lalit, Justice Bhushan, Justice Nageshwar Rao, this clearly shows that my client’s case has been dealt more than fairly by the Hon’ble Supreme Court judges and publishing a news article like this is defamatory to not only to my client but the institution of judiciary at large,” he added.