ITC has filed a Rs 100 crore defamation lawsuit against portfolio manager and blogger Manu Rishi Guptha and two senior officials of financial blog site FinMedium. Guptha, CEO of SEBI-registered investment advisory firm MRG Capital Partners, had written a blog post titled "Magic, illusion or just trickery - The story of ITC", criticising the Kolkata-headquartered company's business decisions alleging irregularities by the management and board of directors.
The post, first published on Guptha's personal blog site, was later carried by FinMedium, a blog site which aggregates content from financial bloggers in the country. ITC has named founder and Editor-in-Chief of FinMedium Dhruv Girdhar and Managing Editor Ghanist Nagpal as co-defendants in the suit.
In its petition filed before the Calcutta High Court, ITC said that Guptha's post suggested among other things that the company's board of directors and management routinely indulged in insider trading, the company has been misleading shareholders, that the board had been taking senseless business decisions and that the company has been fudging its book of accounts.
ITC said that as a consequence of the article, the company and its management have suffered considerable distress, anguish and embarrassment.
The company added that the statements made in the blog post were false, mischievous and in some places, facts were juxtaposed with innuendos and opinion in an attempt to sensationalise the matter.
The petition also mentioned that Guptha had earlier written a similar blog post titled "10 blunders - 1 arrogant company - millions of shareholders suffering", but the company had ignored the post, treating it as a "single errant instance".
ITC said that that the allegations made by Guptha in the post were meant to damage the reputation of the company and the credibility of the management.
As an alternative, ITC has pleaded that the court conduct an enquiry into the loss and damages suffered by the company due to the post, and arrive at a sum payable by Guptha, Girdhar and Nagpal.