The Supreme Court cautioned against the use of litigation for stifling public participation through SLAPP,i.e.Strategic Litigation against Public Participation suits.

In Civil Appeal No. 4602 of 2024, the Supreme Court of India reviewed an interim injunction granted by a trial judge against Bloomberg Television Production Services India Private Limited & Ors. (the appellants) regarding the publication of an article concerning Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited (the respondent).

The trial judge’s order lacked sufficient reasoning and failed to adequately consider the three-fold test for granting injunctions, especially in defamation cases involving media platforms. The Supreme Court emphasized the importance of protecting free speech while balancing it with the right to reputation and privacy. It cited the ‘Bonnard standard,’ which requires exceptional caution in granting injunctions in defamation cases before trial.

The court highlighted the potential abuse of prolonged litigation to stifle free speech and public participation, especially in Strategic Litigation against Public Participation (SLAPP) suits. The Supreme Court set aside the trial judge’s and High Court’s orders, directing a fresh assessment of the injunction application by the trial judge, considering the observations provided in the judgment. The court clarified that its directives were procedural and didn’t indicate a stance on the case’s merits.

Bloomberg Television Production Services
India Private Limited & Ors. …Appellants
VERSUS
Zee Entertainment Enterprises Limited …Respondent

By aor.sanjivnarang@gmail.com

Sanjiv Narang Adv. is an Advocate on Record in the Supreme Court of India. His qualifications include an LLB from University of Delhi and a Masters degree in Personnel Management from Panjab University,Chandigarh.In his more than 3 decades of experience, he has practiced law at the District, High Court and Supreme Court levels.He also has more than a decade of experience in the field of Management. He is the author of two books namely Laws for Women in India and Innovation, Why What and How.