Indian conglomerate ITC has filed a Rs. 100 crores defamation lawsuit against fund manager and hotelier and Manu Rishi Guptha for his defamatory blog post. The lawsuit also names Dhruv Girdhar and Ghanist Nagpal, Editor-in-Chief and Managing Editor of FinMedium respectively, as co-defendants. Gupta, Girdhar and Nagpal have been slapped by the lawsuit for carrying out a blog piece on Guptha’s own blog.
Indian Tobacco Company or ITC has slapped a Rs. 100 crore defamation lawsuit against hotelier and fund manager Manu Rishi Guptha and two other executives of FinMedium, a finance research and analysis related blog.
ITC has recently been the talk on the Dalal street with consistent profits every quarter since the last 3 quarters. However, the cigarette and hotel major fell down 2% after it showed a net profit weaker than the previous quarter.
Now, the conglomerate has filed a Rs. 100 crore defamation lawsuit against a blogger and portfolio manager Manu Rishi Guptha for a blog titled “Magic, Illusion or Just Trickery – The Story of ITC”. In this blog, Guptha questioned the Sanjiv Puri led company’s irregularities, its board of directors and their management.
What Did ITC Think of the Blog?
In its petition, the Calcutta-headquartered conglomerate stated that Guptha’s blog post claimed that ITC’s management indulges in insider trading, that the company has been misleading its shareholders, that the board of directors have taken bad decisions and that ITC has been fudging its books.
Due to the article’s mischievous nature, the company claimed that it has suffered considerable distress, embarrassment and anguish.
Further, the hotel and tobacco products major also said that the allegations, claims and statements made in the blog post are false, and further, at some places, even the facts were misplaced to sensationalize the matter.
What does ITC want now?
The company claimed that the allegations made in the blog post by Guptha were meant to damage the company’s reputation and make a dent in the credibility of its management.
As a result, the company took to the Calcutta High Court and has asked it to conduct a probe into the matter and into the losses and damages the company has suffered due to the post.
The company also asked the High Court to arrive at a sum payable by Guptha and two other executives of FinMedium – Girdhar and Nagpal.
What did Guptha Claim in the Blog Post?
Guptha in his blog post wrote that ITC has pulled the greatest of tricks by convincing its shareholders that its board is responsible for the company.
He further wrote-
“The retail investors also known as the hopeful romantics within the ITC fraternity, keep buying the stock, while Wealth Managers across the country have created an entirely new and risk-free business model of selling ATM call options month after month and making a killing, as they exactly know where the stock is going – NOWHERE.”
The blog post later goes into detail about key financial irregularities which ITC claims are false and were written to cause damage to the company’s credibility.
Not the First Time Guptha Called out ITC
It should be noted that this was not the first time Guptha wrote a blog piece where he called out ITC. ITC, in its defamation plea observed that Guptha had earlier written a blog titled “10 Blunders – 1 Arrogant Company – Millions of Shareholders Suffering”, which the company decided to ignore and considered it a “single errant instance”.