Salman Khan defamation case: Bombay HC judge set to retire says ‘unable to complete judgement’

Justice Chandrakant V Bhadang of the Bombay High Court, who will retire Friday, said Thursday he was unable to complete the final judgement in an appeal by actor Salman Khan in connection with a defamation suit he had filed against his Panvel farmhouse neighbour. Justice Bhadang clarified that the matter will be kept ‘part-heard’ and will come up before another judge after the Diwali vacation of the court ends on November 8.

Salman had filed an appeal against a city civil court’s order of March, which had refused him relief in connection to a defamation suit he had filed against NRI Ketan Kakkad and others for uploading on videos social media about his alleged activities in his Panvel farmhouse.

Justice Bhadang had on October 11 concluded a hearing in the matter and reserved the verdict, which was listed for pronouncement on Thursday. However, expressing his inability in completing the verdict, Justice Bhadang said, “I am unable to complete the judgement. I tried my level best till last evening also. But unfortunately, there was vacation and then administrative work, and I had other assignments.”

The judge added, “I understand the apprehension of the parties and that substantial time and efforts went into this. I would have loved to decide this case either way. Unfortunately, this came at the fag end of my career. I will list this as part heard and then this will come up for hearing post-vacation.”

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Born on November 5, 1960, Justice Bhadang will demit the office as the judge of the High Court on Friday, which will be his last working day.

The actor had told a single-judge bench of Justice Bhadang that the content, including videos uploaded on social media by his neighbour Kakkad in Panvel where he has a farmhouse, was not only derogatory or defamatory but also creating communal bias and were communally provocative.

Salman Khan had filed a defamation suit before the city civil court about the videos uploaded by Kakkad on social media and sought directions to Kakkad to remove them and also restrain him from making such comments. After the civil court refused to pass an injunction order, the actor had moved the Bombay High Court.

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Kakkad, through his advocates Abha Singh and Aditya Pratap, had told the trial court that a defamation case was filed by Khan to pressure him to give up the fight for his land in Panvel. Kakkad argued that his statements revolved around facts about Khan’s property and the same could not amount to defamation. The lawyers had submitted that Khan, being a celebrity, had put everything about himself including information about his Panvel farmhouse in the public domain, and therefore his appeal be dismissed.

Senior advocate Ravi Kadam, appearing for the actor, took an objection to the trial court order and submitted that videos uploaded by Kakkad were blithely speculative. “They are not only defamatory but also communally provoke the viewers against Salman Khan,” Kadam argued. Referring to the script of the videos, Kadam said that Kakkad speaks about Khan being a member of a minority community trying to usurp a Ganesh temple near his Panvel farmhouse.