The Delhi High Court on Tuesday told BharatPe's former MD Ashneer Grover and the officials of the fintech company not to speak in a "unparliamentary" or "defamatory" manner against one another.
The Delhi Police's Economic Offences Wing (EOW) had filed an FIR against Grover and members of his family, and BharatPe had filed an application alleging that Grover had been tweeting defamatory statements ever since.
BharatPe filed the application in its alreasy pending defamation suit related to Grover's earlier tweets.
"This is not a street fight between some rival gangs in the corner of the city. These are corporate people, educated people, articulate people who can surely adjudicate their grievances against each other in a more refined way," Justice Prateek Jalan said.
"If you have both decided to enter the gutter, then please remain there."
Appearing for the fintech company, senior advocates Rajiv Nayar and Dayan Krishnan referred to some of Grover's tweets which alleged that the firm has spent several crores on "lawyers and fixers".
Grover can dispute the BharatPe complaint against him and the Delhi Police's FIR in court if he has issues with company's complaint, counsel argued.
Highlighting some of the tweets by BharatPe officials, advocate Giriraj Subramanium, appearing for Grover, said that BharatPe officials have used similar language against his client on social media and levelled allegations against Grover in the press.
The bench then said that such statements should not be made by two sides.
"Issue notice, Mr Subramanium learned counsel for all respondents accepts notice. Reply be filed by May 20, rejoinder by May 22. List before the roster bench on May 24. While keeping the application pending for adjudication on contest, the learned counsel on all sides have requested to advise their clients to avoid recourse to unparliamentary and defamatory publication against each other," the court ordered as Subramanium said that he will advise Grover to use more decorous language.
BharatPe had approached the HC months after Grover and his wife were dismissed from the company over allegations of misappropriation of funds.
In its suit, running into 2,800 pages, BharatPe has claimed damages worth Rs 88.67 crore from Grover, his wife, and his brother for alleged cheating and misappropriation of funds.
The damages sought include a claim for payment made against the invoices of non-existent vendors amounting to Rs 71.7 crore, a claim for Rs 1.66 crore penalty paid to GST authorities, payments totalling Rs 7.6 crore made to vendors purportedly providing recruitment services, payments of Rs 1.85 crore made to a furnishings company, payments for personal expenditures up to Rs 59.7 lakh and payment of Rs 5 crore damages for loss of reputation to the company caused by tweets and other statements made by them.
In its suit, the fintech company claimed that a Rajasthan-based travel company had raised invoices for foreign tours twice, once for Grover and his wife and second time, for their children. The family also used the company's funds to travel abroad.
The suit further claimed that the Grovers used the company funds to pay the rent and security deposit of their posh duplex and for home appliances, too. The duplex was first taken over by Grovers as the company's guest house but eventually they started living there, the suit claimed.
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