Origin of butter chicken: Daryaganj moves Delhi HC against 'defamatory' remarks by Moti Mahal

Origin of butter chicken: Daryaganj moves Delhi HC against 'defamatory' remarks by Moti Mahal

New Delhi | Restaurant chain Daryaganj has moved the Delhi High Court against certain allegedly defamatory remarks made by the proprietors of Moti Mahal in an interview on the issue of the origin of "butter chicken".

The Moti Mahal owners, who have filed a lawsuit claiming that their predecessor, Late Kundan Lal Gujral, invented "butter chicken" and "dal makhani" while Daryaganj is "misleading people" on the origin of the two dishes, have asserted that the remarks in question were an "editorial perspective" and cannot be attributed to them.

Justice Sanjeev Narula asked the proprietors of Moti Mahal to submit an affidavit, affirming their effort to distance themselves from the statement in articles that have been published.

In an application filed in the lawsuit, Daryaganj has raised concerns regarding the "defamatory" statements in the article -- first published in the "Wall Street Journal" and then further circulated and replicated by other websites -- saying they cause substantial negative impact on the restaurant's reputation.

The statements, it has been alleged, not only disparaged their business but also prejudiced a fair adjudication on the lawsuit, and immediate corrective action should therefore be taken by the other side to retract and remove those.

The proprietors of Moti Mahal have sought to dissociate themselves from the remarks attributed to them, suggesting that the expressions found in the article were not reflective of their direct communications or intentions.

"Plaintiffs (Moti Mahal owners) are directed to submit an affidavit, elaborating on the assertions and affirming their effort to distance themselves from the disputed statement in the published articles. Let the same be filed within two weeks from today," Justice Narula said in a recent order.

For several years, the two restaurant chains have claimed that they invented "butter chicken" and "dal makhani".

Earlier this year, Moti Mahal sued Daryaganj for taking the credit for the two dishes and claiming that there was a relation between them.

Moti Mahal’s owners have sought to restrain Daryaganj restaurants’ proprietors from claiming that their predecessor, Late Kundan Lal Jaggi, was the inventor of these two dishes, which are now world famous, and from using the tagline "by the inventors of butter chicken and dal makhani" on its website www.daryaganj.com and various social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter, as well as in print and electronic media.

The high court had earlier issued a summons to the owners of Daryaganj and asked them to file a written statement in response to the suit.

In their suit, the Moti Mahal owners have claimed that it was their predecessor, Gujral, who created the first tandoori chicken and later, also went on to create butter chicken and dal makhani and brought it to India after Partition.

The counsel for Daryaganj restaurants have vehemently opposed the claims and contended that the suit was misconceived, baseless and lacking a cause of action. The counsel have argued that the defendants have not engaged in any false representation or claim, and the allegations made in the suit are far from the truth.

The matter would next be heard on May 29.

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