Mumbai: The Bombay High Court on Monday said content posted by two individuals and their organisations against vaccine manufacturing major Serum Institute of India (SII) was “prima facie defamatory” and directed them to delete it.
A single bench of Justice R I Chagla also temporarily restrained them from posting any content against the company.
The SII filed a defamation suit in December 2022 seeking damages to the tune of Rs 100 crore from the two individuals and their organisations for allegedly posting erroneous content against the company and its COVID-19 vaccine Covishield.
The high court on Monday in its interim order said it was of the prima facie view that the SII has satisfied that the contents and accusations made by the two persons were defamatory.
“I am of the prima facie view that the contents are per se defamatory. The vaccine is not banned. No case is made out by the defendants,” the judge said in the interim order.
The court will at a later date take up the company’s suit for final hearing.
The HC directed the defendants to delete all their posts and content against the company and temporarily restrained them from posting any such content further until the suit is heard and decided.
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The SII in its suit claimed the defendants — Yohan Tengra, his organisation Anarchy for Freedom India, and Ambar Koiri and his organisation Awaken India Movement — had been posting and circulating defamatory content against the company and its COVID-19 vaccine Covishield.
The suit said the defendants had also been posting incorrect information that implied the Covishield vaccine was the cause of deaths of multiple persons due to side-effects.
The posts released were not only targeting the SII, but also its Chief Executive Officer Adar Poonawalla, it said.
The plea sought the HC to restrain the defendants from publishing, circulating any content against the SII or its employees.
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