Earlier, the Delhi government had recommended Kumar’s suspension over his ‘complicity’ in a land acquisition case.
The Delhi High Court today directed news outlet The Wire to pull down its article on Delhi chief secretary Naresh Kumar, pointing to a potential conflict of interest in the land acquisition by the NHAI for the Dwarka Expressway project, Bar and Bench reported.
This comes amid a thick controversy, with Kumar filing a defamation suit against the media portal and its reporter Meetu Jain, and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal recommending the bureaucrat’s suspension over alleged “abuse of authority” in the land acquisition case.
In its November 9 report titled ‘Links of son of Delhi Chief Secretary to Beneficiary’s Family in Land Over-Valuation Case Raise Questions’, the The Wire had alleged that Kumar’s son Karan Chauhan had links with a family that had benefited from an inflated compensation for a 19-acre land acquired by the NHAI in Delhi’s Bamnoli village for Dwarka Expressway.
The dispute arose after southwest Delhi district magistrate Hemant Kumar awarded Rs 353 crore compensation to brothers Subhash Chand Kathuria and Vinod Kathuria for their 19-acre land in May this year, overturning a 2018 additional DM’s order to grant ₹41.52 crore for the land on a valuation of ₹53 lakh per acre.
On Kumar’s petition alleging that the accusations against him were “patently false and misleading”, the high court said there should be some basis for the allegations made in the news article.
The court directed The Wire to not publish any defamatory material against Kumar, and also directed to take down other tweets, posts, links to the story.
Meanwhile, The Wire’s advocate Sarim Naved argued that the article had raised pertinent questions, and it was the news portal’s duty to hold the government and the bureaucrats accountable.
Naved also emphasised the Delhi government’s report on the allegations against Kumar. Delhi minister Atishi Marlena had recommended Kumar’s removal last week over a probe report alleging Kumar’s complicity in the land acquisition matter.