Karnataka High Court asks X to restore the account of Dr Cyriac Abby Philips, aka ‘TheLiverDoc’

Justice SG Pandit of the High Court directed that Dr. Philips' contentious tweets against Himalaya should be temporarily hidden.

BySumit Jha

Published Oct 10, 2023 | 2:12 PMUpdatedOct 10, 2023 | 2:41 PM

Dr Cyriac Abbey Philips. (South First)

On Tuesday, 10 October, the Karnataka High Court cleared the path for the reinstatement of Kerala-based hepatologist Dr Cyriac Abby Philips’s X account. He is widely recognised as “TheLiverDoc” (@theliverdr) on X, formerly Twitter.

The social media platform suspended Dr Philips’s account following a Bengaluru court order on 28 September, prompted by a defamation lawsuit filed by the pharmaceutical and wellness company Himalaya Wellness. At the time, the court ruled that the account was to remain suspended until 5 January, 2024.

Court orders reinstatement 

While pronouncing his order, Justice Shankar Ganapathi Pandit of the Karnataka High Court directed that Dr Philips’s contentious tweets against Himalaya be temporarily hidden.

“Dr Phillips undertakes to hide offending tweets so far as it relates to plaintiff (Himalaya Wellness) and its products. Order on IA 2 (to suspend account) is modified to that extent,” the court said, as reported by Bar and Bench.

The case is scheduled to be revisited during the second week of November.

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Dr Philips challenged order

Philips said that he was unaware of the case until his account was suspended.

“I did not know any of this was happening until X suspended my account. I never knew that this was in the court and there was a hearing going on. It was all done behind my back,” he had told South First earlier.

He said that he would challenge the order. “I’m going to appeal at the higher court. My lawyers are looking at it,” he said.

The hepatologist said that Himalaya’s argument, that he had been making statements to promote the products of firms like Cipla and Alchem, was false. “I have never done it. There is evidence,” he stated.

“All my posts are completely backed by scientific research and scientific evidence, and based on the lack of scientific evidence for their products and practice,” he added.

On 7 October, Dr Philips moved the Karnataka High Court for the modification of the order.

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‘Not conceding tweets are defamatory’

As reported by Bar and Bench, senior counsel Aditya Sondhi, who appeared for Dr Philips, said, “I am a hepatologist speaking the truth. This sort of draconian order could have never have been issued by the trial court… could my entire account have been suspended ex parte. They say they were aware of my statements since 2019.”

Sondhi said that the account should be restored. “The nine offending tweets may be hidden. It is well settled that such blanket orders cannot be passed,” Sondhi said.

While the court agreed that Dr Philips’s account could be reinstated, it added a clause, “If you undertake that all those tweets (would be) removed.”

Sondhi, however, made it clear that he was not conceding that the tweets are defamatory and said the tweets can be hidden for the time being until the lower court decides on the defamation suit one way or the other.

The court accepted the same and ordered that the account be restored, subject to Dr Philips hiding the nine offending tweets.

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Background on the case

Himalaya’s counsel Udaya Holla told the court that Dr Phillips was posting derogatory statements and materials against the products of the company, which affected the firm’s business.

The lawyer argued that the hepatologist’s statements and materials posted on X were false and unjustified. He further submitted that the doctor made such posts to promote the products of two other pharmaceutical firms: Cipla and Alchem.

“There is a need to issue an ad-interim ex parte injunction directing the party who is posting such materials to remove them at the earliest so as to minimise the damage caused to the person who is affected by such postings in any manner like loss of reputation, loss of income in monetary terms and disservice to the consumers who are benefited by the products like Liv-52,” the advocate said.

The lower court, on 24 September, said that the warranted notices should be issued to the defendants. “The urgency made out by the plaintiff company shows that an immediate order has to be passed before issuing notice against the defendants,” the court said while passing the injunction order.

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