Scalded Sue not keen on suing

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  • Published 19.04.10

New Delhi, April 18: A scalded Sunanda Pushkar wants to move on to fresh battles but these do not include a lawsuit against Lalit Modi.

“We want to move on in life. Aur bhi gham hai zindagi mein IPL ke siwai (there are other sorrows in life apart from the IPL),” a philosophical Ashish Mehta, Sunanda’s Dubai-based lawyer, told The Telegraph over the phone today.

Sunanda — Sue to her friends in Dubai — may have sound reasons. Lawyers say it would be extremely difficult to persuade an Indian court to award substantial damages against Modi for breaking confidentiality terms by tweeting IPL Kochi’s shareholding details.

Mehta indicated that Sunanda wanted to end the fight against Modi, whose disclosure had led the Rendezvous-led consortium that won the Kochi IPL bid to allege he had violated privacy clauses embedded in their contract.

Modi’s tweet had also triggered accusations that Sunanda’s friend Shashi Tharoor, who had mentored the Kochi bid, had misused his office to get her free equity in the consortium — charges both she and the junior foreign minister have denied.

Mehta today released Sunanda’s statement announcing she was giving up her “sweat equity” in Rendezvous. Asked during the phone interview if his client planned to sue Modi for damages, the lawyer said: “No. I don’t think there is any such plan.”

On Friday, a PTI report had quoted Mehta as saying Sunanda planned to file for damages, without clarifying against whom. Days earlier, Kochi franchise sources had denied plans to sue Modi.

A lawyer, Sameer Parekh, explained why successfully suing Modi would be difficult. “You can’t hide an illegality by a confidentiality agreement. And if it is something legal, why hide it?” he said.

“In this case, the confidentiality agreement seems to be ‘please don’t disclose my identity’. There is something fishy about this. You can’t suppress an illegality under the law.”

Lawyer Sajid Mohamed of the Mumbai-based PDS & Associates said such breach-of-confidentiality cases bring measly damages in Indian courts unless extra rights have been worked into the contract itself relating to such violation. Besides, establishing the quantum of loss the aggrieved party has suffered is an “impossible task”, he said.

Mohamed dismissed the brouhaha over Modi’s alleged breach of confidentiality by saying private limited companies had to register with the registrar of companies, and anyone could access documents about their shareholding patterns by paying a fee of Rs 15.

Mehta insisted that Sunanda’s decision to relinquish her equity was “completely voluntary”.

“She offered to give up her sweat equity on her own,” he said but clarified, when asked, that the consortium had not yet responded to her offer. Sunanda also quit Rendezvous with whom, she had said, she was working as a consultant.

Mehta has defended several celebrities in high-profile cases. He is defending Salman Khan, said to be a friend, in the poaching case against the actor.

The lawyer had also defended DJ Aqeel, popular for his Bollywood remixes, when he was allegedly caught with 0.06 grams of party drug Ecstasy at Dubai airport in 2007. Aqeel was cleared and allowed to fly back to India.