Delhi High Court ordered Twitter to take down the defamatory posts of Dr Vikram Sampath
Dr Audrey Truschke posted a series of defamatory posts against Dr Vikram Sampath alleging that his recent work “SARVAKAR echoes from the forgotten past” is plagiarized content. Dr Vikram Sampath filed an application before Delhi high court seeking an ad interim injunction relief against defendants from posting defamatory posts about the plaintiff. Delhi high court on 24th February 2022 granted an ad-interim injunction in favour of the plaintiff and directed Twitter to remove the defamatory Twitter posts against Vikram Sampath in the Twitter handle.
Facts of the case:
- The plaintiff, Dr Vikram Sampath is an author who has written two-volume biography of Shri Vinayak Damodar Sarvakar titled “SARVAKAR echoes from the forgotten past”
- He is a member of the Royal Historical Society in London and a senior researcher at Nehru Memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi.
- He was honoured with the prestigious Sahitya Academy Yuva Puraskar and New York’s ARSC award for excellence in Historical Research.
- Audrey Truschke and others wrote a letter to the president of the Historical Society on 11th February 2022.
- The subject matter of the letter was that the plaintiff Vikram Sampath has plagiarized the works of Dr. Vinayak Chaturvedi, Dr Janki Bakhle and Dr Paul Schaffel.
- The petitioner contended that wherever he has taken the extracts from the works of the aforesaid person he has given credit to them in the footnotes
- Petitioner further mentioned that Dr Janki Bakhle has reviewed the book of the plaintiff in India Today Magazine and she did not mention any grievance regarding the Plagiarism content of the book in the Magazine.
- Based on the letter dated 11th February 2022 severe defamatory tweets have been posted on various social media platforms including Twitter.
- The defamatory tweets caused great harm to the reputation of the plaintiff as he is a known academic hence plaintiff filed a petition seeking relief of permanent injunction against the defendants restraining them to publish the letter dated 11th February 2022 and other defamatory material.
- Plaintiff claimed 2 crore rupees as damages for defamation
- Senior counsel appearing on behalf of twitter submitted to the court that twitter is only an intermediary and if particular URLs of posts are considered to be defamatory by the court then the same can be taken down by Twitter.
- Delhi High court held that balance of convenience lies in favour of the plaintiff and if ad interim injunction is not granted to the plaintiff there will be irreparable harm and injury to the plaintiff’s reputation and career.
- Delhi High Court on 18th February 2022 granted an ad-interim injunction in the favour of the plaintiff restraining defendants from publishing the letter dated 11th February 2022.
- Plaintiff came across one more later dated 15th February 2022 written by defendants 1,2 and 3 to the president of the Royal Historical Society, London making similar allegations of Plagiarism against the plaintiff.
- Plaintiff also uncovered an email dated 14th February 2022 written by defendant 1 in which similar allegations of plagiarism were made against the plaintiff.
- The plaintiff filed an interlocutory application before Delhi high court on 24th February 2022 stating that the letter dated 15th February 2022 was posted by defendant no 1 in her Twitter account and he submitted various offending and defamatory tweets posted by defendant No 1 against the plaintiff in her Twitter handle.
Delhi high relying upon the order of 18th February 2022 directed that
i) Defendant No 1,2 and 3 are restrained from posting the letter dated 15th February 2022 and the email dated 14th February 2022 or any other defamatory material in respect of the plaintiff on Twitter, Facebook or any other online or offline platform
ii) Defendants No.4 is also directed to take down the tweets posted by defendant No.1 against the plaintiff within 36 hours from the passing of this order.
To conclude as the plaintiff had a balance of convenience and not granting ad interim injunction would have caused irreparable loss to the plaintiff. Hence the order of Delhi high court in restraining the defendants from further posting defamatory remarks against the plaintiff is an appropriate decision.