Court dismisses realtor’s plea seeking injunction against protesting residents, ET RealEstate

June 15, 2024

GURUGRAM: A city court has dismissed a real estate company’s plea seeking an injunction against residents of a condominium who had put up banners to protest construction quality and other infrastructure problems.

BPTP, the developer of Park Serene, had filed a defamation case against 25 residents of the society early May, arguing that residents’ protests were harming its reputation and leading to financial losses. On May 22, the developer moved a pre-trial injunction plea to stop the protests.

Residents who protested in March argued the banners were put up in public interest to bring to attention construction deficiencies at the gated society in Sector 37D. They told the court the developer was using litigation to suppress their attempt at creating public awareness.

The court of civil judge (junior division) Kimmi Singla found “no exceptional circumstances warranting an injunction” and emphasised the importance of upholding freedom of speech.

In the May 31 order dismissing the plea, the judge also referred to the Supreme Court’s ruling earlier this year in Bloomberg Television Production Services India vs Zee Entertainment Enterprises (2024).

The top court, which was hearing an appeal on March 22, struck down a Delhi court’s order directing Bloomberg to take down an article on an investigation against Zee. SC observed in its ruling that courts should weigh the effect of injunctions on constitutionally protected rights such as free speech.

Referring to the SC judgment, civil judge Singla said: “As per the said verdict, interim injunction in case of defamation suits should be granted sparingly and in exceptional cases.”

The judge observed that in this case, the plaintiff is a “builder who wields immense economic power and through the present litigation, is attempting to prevent the public from knowing about or participating in important affairs that are in their interest”.

The order noted that most banners put up by Park Serene residents were about facilities and infrastructure provided by BPTP.

“… whether the same would constitute defamation is a matter of trial, thereby this court is of the considered view that any injunction granted in favour of the plaintiff would restrain the defendant from raising their concerns… Accordingly, the application at hand stands dismissed,” it ruled. The court will take up the defamation case next on Nov 26. On Friday, Park Serene residents welcomed the court’s order.

“The quality of construction and operations of the maintenance agency are not up to standard. Such legal cases against us are mental harassment. We are grateful to the court for recognising our right to express legitimate concerns and for defending our freedom of speech,” Satyaveer Sangwan, a resident, said.

Sandeep Sharma, RWA president of the 45-acre township, said, “The developer frequently uses the society’s club for their sales and investment meetings, bringing in external visitors. We have repeatedly voiced our concerns, but our pleas seem to be ignored, leaving us with no option but to protest.”

Asked about the order, a representative of the developer said the company will “pursue its legal recourse to protect its rights”.

  • Published On Jun 15, 2024 at 08:54 AM IST

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