Denton Wilde Sapte solicitor Gauri Advani is being sued for libel by Hardeep Singh Puri, the Deputy High Commissioner for India in London.
A High Court claim states that they had been friends for over 20 years. Advani is the daughter-in-law of LK Advani, the Indian Home Minister. At the beginning of October, the Delhi High Court issued notices to the Lieutenant-Governor of Delhi and the Police Commissioner following a petition filed by Advani. She alleged that the New Delhi police had not registered a case against Puri following her complaint that she was being intimidated to agree to divorce her husband, Jayant Advani. The Lieutenant-Governor and Police Commissioner had until 17 October to answer the petition; they said after their enquiries that, on the basis of her complaint, there was no case. In his libel action, Puri claims that Advani wrote and published and/or caused to be published a number of defamatory statements. As a result, he stated his reputation had suffered and that he had been caused considerable embarrassment and distress. The allegations centre on the contents of letters written in November 2000 by Advani to Shri Nareshwar Dayal, the High Commissioner for India in London. Other letters to the police station at Tilak Marg, New Delhi, in May 2001 are also claimed to be defamatory. A court document outlining Puri’s claim states that her letters can be understood to accuse him of blackmail, false imprisonment in a pub and threatening behaviour. It is argued that they also suggest Puri abused his position. It further states that these letters passed through several administrative stages prior to its delivery to the High Commissioner. It also alleges that Advani faxed copies of the letters to other parties. The argument is that Advani must have intended her letter to be seen by a number of people, including Lalit Mansingh, then the Indian Foreign Secretary, personal staff of the High Commissioner and Bhaswati Mukherjee, a Joint Secretary of the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. Riccardo Rovati, a partner at Arlingtons Sharmas Solicitors, is acting for Puri; 1 Brick Court’s Richard Rampton QC will represent him at the High Court. Advani has instructed Charles Russell partner Chris Hutchings, who declined to comment, but a Charles Russell spokesperson said: “We’ll vigorously contest the claims.” Dentons refused to comment.