New Delhi, Feb 18 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Friday restrained publication of any defamatory material and the letter written to the Royal Historical Society in London alleging plagiarism by historian Vikram Sampath in relation to his work on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.
Justice Amit Bansal passed the interim order against academicians Audrey Truschke, Ananya Chakrabarti, Rohit Chopra and Ashok Swain as well as freelance journalist Abhishek Baxi on a defamation lawsuit filed by Sampath.
The judge issued summons on the suit to the individuals as well as the Centre and Twitter and said that the plaintiff historian made out a prima facie case for grant on an ad-interim protection as the content of the letter was damaging his career and reputation.
“The continued publication of the letter has been causing considerable damage to the plaintiff’s reputation and career. Balance of convenience is also in his favour and irreparable damage will be caused if the injunction is not granted,” the court stated.
“Consequently, till the next date of hearing, defendants no 1 (Dr Audrey Truschke), 2 (Dr Ananya Chakrabarti), 3 (Dr Rohit Chopra), 6 (Abhishek Baxi) and 7 (Ashok Swain) are restrained from publishing the letter dated February 11, 2022 or any other defamatory material on Twitter as well as any other online or offline platforms,” it added.
The court noted Twitter’s stand that if ordered, it would take down the specific tweets which are allegedly defamatory and placed the case for further hearing on April 1.
In the plea, Sampath said he is the author of a critically acclaimed biography of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar and is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London.
He informed the court that earlier this month, Truschke, Chakrabarti and Chopra wrote to the Society making serious allegations of plagiarism with respect to the two-volume biography of Savarkar.
Subsequently, Baxi and Swain took to Twitter to post defamatory tweets against the plaintiff, it was stated.
Lawyer Raghav Awasthi, appearing for Sampath, said the allegations of plagiarism were baseless considering that the piece contained due citations, attributions and footnotes.
“I’ve (Sampath) cited all authors. As a scholar, all I have is my reputation amongst my peers. My academic reputation will go for a toss,” the lawyer said.
In the plea filed through lawyer Mukesh Sharma, apart from seeking an injunction against the named individuals, the plaintiff has also sought around Rs 2 crore as damages.
The plea has claimed that it is at the receiving end of an “international smear campaign” to discredit him “because he has shown the academic courage and gumption to challenge the prevailing narrative around a historical figure like Sh. V.D. Savarkar”.
Lawyer Jawahar Raja, appearing for one of the individual defendants, opposed the interim order and stated that the issue of plagiarism was wider than that of copyright infringement and there were “sentences lifted verbatim”.
“I am not asking you to withdraw the letter. I’m just saying don’t publish it. I only need to take a prima facie view. It is only for an ad-interim arrangement,” Justice Bansal said.
Senior advocate Sajan Poovayya, appearing for Twitter, stated that the platform which is an intermediary, “can’t police the letter” but if ordered by the court, it would take down specific tweets where URL is “clearly identified”. PTI ADS SA
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