Ashneer Grover, the former CEO and co-founder of India’s fintech unicorn BharatPe, continue to attract eyeballs, albeit for all the wrong reasons. On Monday, while hearing the suit filed by BharatPe against Ashneer Grover and his wifey Madhuri Jain, the court issued a strongly worded statement that sounded more like a warning message.
Delhi High Court instructed the counsel of Ashner Grover to advise his client on maintaining dignity in the wake of his expulsion from the fintech company.
Justice Navinchawla commented while issuing notice to Grover and Madhuri’s application for access to their official email IDs.
“This social media has brought us down to this level. Ask him (Grover) to maintain decorum.”
The court observed after going through some tweets and statements made by Grover against BharatPe’s officers. The counsel of BharatPe also brought the attention of the Court to some other statements that could not be read in an open court due to the offensive language used by Ashneer Grover.
BharatPe has filed a lawsuit against Ashneer Grover and Madhuri Jain seeking, among other reliefs, to stop them from making defamatory statements about the fintech company.
BharatPe Senior Advocate Rajiv Nayar appeared before the Court.
“Even after the suit was filed, he (Grover), is saying things that I cannot even repeat in court.”
In a counterargument, advocate Giriraj S, representing Grover, said that his client wasn’t on the wrong foot.
“”I am the largest individual shareholder in the company. The AGM was being held and I was stopped. I am saying I will call the police. Don’t know what is wrong in that.”
However, Nayar quickly brought the Court’s attention to the book released by Ashneer Grover, in which he compared prostitution with the legal profession.
He argued that just because there’s no interim order doesn’t mean that Ashneer is allowed to say anything.
Taking cognizance of the objection by Nayar, the judge reacted sharply to Grover’s counsel.
Why are you saying all these things about these professions? Do these have any relevance? The moment you start saying something against these officers of the company, you are defaming the company.”
In response, Giriraj informed the Court that after BharatPe filed the suit against the Grover couple, they also filed complaints with the police and initiated the arbitration.
After hearing the arguments of both teh counsels representing BharatPe and Grover couple, the Court passed an order seeking a response from Ashneer Grover within three weeks.
“Issue notice on defendants’ application to the plaintiff. Notice accepted. Three more weeks time granted to the defendants to file their responses to the interim applicants. Written statements to be filed in response to the main suit as well.”
After the massive financial frauds allegedly committed by Ashneer Grover and Madhuri Grover at BharatPe unearthed, the company moved to the High Court months after firing both of them from the company.
The High Court issued summons on Grover and his spouse on December 8, 2022 and gave them two weeks to respond to the interim relief request filed by the company.
BharatPe Senior Advocate Mukul Roopa appeared before the Court and showed some tweets from Grover to the Court. He argued that Grover is making baseless accusations against the company’s current management in an attempt to tarnish its brand image.
The Court issued notice to Grover, and other parties, after Grover’s counsel stated they had not been served with the suit copies.
BharatPe alleged that Grover, his wife, and his brother, under different heads, have caused the company damages in excess of Rs 88.67 crore.
This includes a claim to payments made against invoices from non-existent vendors amounting Rs 71.7 crore; a claim to GST authorities for a penalty amounting Rs 1.66 crore; payments to vendors purportedly offering recruitment services totaling Rs 7.6 crore; payments to a furniture company amounting Rs 1.85 crore; payments for Ashneer’s personal expenses amounting Rs 59.7 lakh. Besides, the company has also sought Rs 5 crore as compensation from Ashneer Grover, his wife, and others for making attempts to destroy the company’s reputation through the tweets made by Grover and his relatives.
Here is the list of the major reliefs BharatPe has sought:
- Disclosure of assets of Grover and his family members;
- Interim injunction against the defendants restraining them from making defamatory/derogatory statements concerning BharatPe, its directors, employees and/or publicizing the same;
- Direction to defendants to delete/remove within a period of five days all statements, tweets, social media posts, books, re-tweets, hashtags, videos, press conferences, interviews, comments etc made against the company;
- Orders granting liberty to BharatPe to approach all social media platforms, media organisations, publications, websites, blogs etc. to seek deletion/removal of all such material.