Files Rs.500-million lawsuit; Delhi Press, the publisher of The Caravan decides to fight the suit.
BestMediaInfo Bureau | Delhi | June 23, 2011
It was Arindam chaudhary, Dean, IIPM that made it to third rank of Twitter trends yesterday. The reason being the Rs 500-million lawsuit filed against The Caravan magazine, citing “grave harassment and injury”. This is an action taken against a cover story done by the magazine in February 2011 issue, titled- “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes”, written by Siddhartha Deb, contributing editor, The Caravan.
The lawsuit against the magazine has been filed in the Court of Civil Judge in Silchar district, Assam wherein Kishorendu Gupta, who operates Gupta Electrical Engineers in a Silchar suburb, and is the first plaintiff and IIPM is the second plaintiff. Besides The Caravan and its proprietors, the suit charges Siddhartha Deb, Penguin (the publisher of the upcoming book by Deb in which the article is a chapter), and Google India (which, the suit alleges, has been “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles”).
In the past also IIPM had filed similar lawsuits against Rashmi Bansal, a blogger and editor of Just Another Magazine (JAM) in 2005 who published an article in print and online questioning many of the claims made by the IIPM in its brochures and advertisements, which highlighted that the IIPM had not been accredited by any Indian agency such as AICTE, UGC or under other state acts. The IIPM filed a case against Bansal from Silchar, Assam, even though she runs a small independent outfit based in Mumbai. The IIPM managed to get an ex-parte order from the court, forcing Bansal to remove the article from the website. The IIPM also filed for damages. And also in 2009, against Maheshwar Peri, publisher of Outlook magazine, who carried an article titled “IIPM - Best only in claims?
The sum and substance of the petition is that The Caravan has published a false, incorrect, defamatory and libelous article and has made false imputations against the IIPM, which, the petition says, the author and editors of The Caravan knew to be false, and that these were made with the intention to defame the IIPM institute as well as its councilors like Kishorendu Gupta.
However if IIPM can demonstrate that any errors of fact have been made, The Caravan will print a correction in the magazine as well as on its website. But the vast majority of the “falsehoods” cited in the legal suit are not based on matters of fact, and the objections merely reflect the discomfort of the IIPM with the language employed to describe the facts.
Reacting on the development, an official communiqué from The Caravan said, “The Caravan intends to fight this suit because we believe that we must defend the right of journalists to report on controversial subjects or persons without undue fear of legal intimidation from powerful entities or organisations that seek to insulate themselves from criticism. Delhi Press, the publisher of The Caravan and many popular titles like Sarita, Woman’s Era,Grihshobha and Mukta, has time and again been at the forefront of defending the right to freedom of speech and freedom of press during its 70 years of publishing history. On account of the bold anti-authoritarian and anti-religious obscurantist articles published in its leading socio-political magazine in Hindi, Sarita, the group has successfully fought all attempts of legal intimidation over the years.”
As of now, civil court in Silchar has granted IIPM a preliminary injunction, enabling Delhi Press to remove the article in question from its website, without any pre-hearing notice.