In a significant development, the Karnataka High Court has intervened to modify a trial court’s order, allowing Dr. Cyriac Abby Philips, popularly known as ‘The Liver Doctor’ operating under the Twitter handle ‘@theliverdr,’ to access his account. The decision came after Dr. Philips provided an undertaking to conceal alleged defamatory tweets against Himalaya Wellness Corporation and its products.
Justice SG Pandit presided over the proceedings and paved the way for Dr. Philips to regain access to his account, emphasizing the undertaking provided to hide the tweets that were deemed defamatory towards Himalaya Wellness Corporation.
Himalaya Wellness Corporation had initiated legal action, contending that Dr. Philips had been posting derogatory statements about the company’s products, leading to significant financial losses. Senior Advocate Aditya Sondhi, representing Dr. Philips, clarified that the undertaking was made without prejudice to his client’s contentions and highlighted the assertion that the Liv52 product in question is banned in the United States.
Dr. Philips had approached the High Court in response to a Civil Court’s ex-parte interim injunction order, which had suspended his ‘@X’ account ‘@theliverdr.’ The Civil Court’s order, part of a defamation suit filed by Himalaya, had not only suspended the account but also restrained Dr. Philips from tweeting or publishing any defamatory remarks against the Himalaya Wellness Corporation.
Senior Advocate Sondhi argued against what he deemed a disproportionate order from the trial court, questioning the suspension of his entire account. The company, represented by Senior Advocate Uday Holla, maintained that Dr. Philips’ statements were false and unjustified, alleging that the intention behind his remarks was to promote products from other companies such as Cipla and Alchem.
The High Court indicated that it would consider interim relief if Dr. Philips agreed to remove all derogatory tweets. Upon Dr. Philips’ agreement, the Court issued the following order:
“Petitioner undertakes to hide the offending tweets so far as respondent 1/plaintiff (Himalaya) and its products. The said undertaking is placed on record. [Trial court] Order to that extent is modified.”
The matter is scheduled for further proceedings on November 2, and the Court has also issued a notice to ‘X Corp’ in connection with the case. This legal development underscores the ongoing challenges surrounding online content and the delicate balance between free expression and potential defamation.