Madras High Court slaps woman with massive ₹1 crore fine for defaming former health minister

Vijayabaskar approached the court stating that the woman Sharmila from Kerala made false allegations that he cheated a gold firm.

ByVinodh Arulappan

Published Nov 11, 2023 | 8:40 PM Updated Nov 11, 2023 | 8:49 PM

Former health minister Vijayabaskar with his advocates at the Madras High Court. (Supplied)

The Madras High Court slapped a fine of ₹1.13 crore on a Kerala-based woman for defaming AIADMK leader and former health minister C Vijayabaskar.

The former minister approached the Madras High Court stating that a woman named Sharmila from Kerala was making false allegations against him, contending that he was involved in cheating a gold firm.

Vijayabaskar stated that he did not know the woman and was in no way involved in any transaction with her. He also said that the woman had given interviews to the media and also took to social media to defame him.

Pointing to a complaint she filed with the Tirunelveli police, the former minister said that the complaint was false and was closed by the concerned police after a preliminary inquiry.

The AIADMK leader also contended that the allegations made against him were baseless and were made with the sole intention of tarnishing his image and reputation. Hence, he sought damages.

During the hearing, the court summoned the former minister. On 8 November, Vijayabaskar appeared before the court and the judge recorded his statement.

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Fine for defaming

On Friday 10 November, Justice Sathish Kumar delivered the verdict in the case.

The judge, in his order, lauded the work done by Vijayabaskar while he was a minister and recalled his efforts and work during the pandemic. The court also opined that such a person, with high respect in society, should not have been defamed.

The judge ordered a fine of ₹1.13 crore on Sharmila for disseminating defamatory news. Additionally, Sharmila was instructed to reimburse the legal expenses incurred by Vijayabaskar in the course of the legal battle.

The court issued a directive prohibiting the publication of news related to this case of Sharmila linking the minister to any scam in newspapers and other media outlets. It explicitly mandated the immediate deletion of all messages and posts pertaining to the matter on social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook.

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Background of the case

In 2016, a jeweller in Kerala had lodged a complaint against Alappuzha-based Sharmila. The allegation was that she took gold worth ₹2.5 crore and did not pay the firm.

During the investigation, the woman gave a statement that she acted as a mediator to the then health minister Vijayabaskar to purchase a large quantity of gold from the firm.

She claimed that the gold that she received was a commission for the deal.

Following this, the Enforcement Directorate summoned Vijayabaskar in the case and recorded his statement. Vijayabaskar asserted innocence in the matter and said that he was being dragged unnecessarily into the case.

After verification, the agency found that there was no connection to the then-minister in the case.

Meanwhile, in November 2021, Sharmila lodged a complaint with the Tirunelveli police, stating that Vijayabaskar had cheated her and was threatening her. That matter, too, was investigated and dropped.