Tuesday, Oct 04, 2022
Outlook.com
libel

Frankness Don't Pay

Maneka wins damages, an apology and a weapon to fire at Sonia

Frankness Don't Pay
Jitender Gupta
Frankness Don't Pay
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

It was an unexpected victory—with the stiff libel laws in the UK and most of the characters Maneka was suing on behalf of already dead, not even Maneka's lawyers were hopeful of winning the libel suit she filed against Frank six months ago. Until a close reading of the heavy tome produced a small para that turned the case around. Frank refers in that fatal sentence to Sanjay "arranging" for an underworld figure, Sunderlal, to be "eliminated". The next sentence turned out to be even more foolhardy: she mentions that both Sanjay and Maneka went to call on a close friend, Navin Chawla, secretary to the then Delhi governor. Sanjay and Maneka asked Chawla, the magistrate who got them married, for the "small favour" of taking the rap for Sanjay, according to Frank, who cited Chawla's wife, Rupika, as her source. But when the Chawlas denied ever having met Frank, and Rupika submitted a three-page letter to Maneka's lawyer Raj Panjwani denying everything, Frank was in a "big jam".

Khushwant Singh, who himself is entangled in a protracted court case with Maneka for "invading her privacy" in his autobiography which is now in the Supreme Court, agrees that Frank went too far. "You can't make wild allegations of conspiracy to murder and a cover-up based on a verbal dialogue," he points out, adding: "I'm delighted on Maneka's behalf."

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