Delhi High Court issues summons to Audrey Truschke, Twitter and others in defamation plea by historian Vikram Sampath

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A Delhi High Court bench of Justice Amit Bansal today issued summons to Audrey Truschke and others in a defamation suit filed by Indian historian, Dr. Vikram Sampath, over an allegedly defamatory letter sent to the Royal Historical Society (RHS) and published on social media platforms, raising allegations of plagiarism against him with respect to a journal publication and his two-volume biography of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

Sampath approached Court against the allegedly defamatory letter and tweets made pursuant thereto.

Adv Raghav Awasthi for Sampath informed Court that the letter in question has been published on Twitter and is defamatory in nature, as it falsely accuses him of plagiarism.

Adv Jawahar Raja for one of the defendants, argued that he has written it only to the Royal Historical Society, London and doesn't know "how it got to Twitter."

Sr. Adv. Sajjan Poovayya for Twitter on the other hand, submitted that Twitter is merely an intermediary, platform owner and that "to take down tweets, specific orders must be passed by this Court."

He added that as regards tweets, as soon as order is passed, they will be taken down, but for the letter they must show the URL.

Poovayya argued, "They must show the URL and that the letter is there on the URL for a prima facie case to be shown."

However, the High Court after hearing all parties issued summons noting that Sampath as an author who has written a 2-volume biography of V Savarkar, and a member of Royal Historical Society, London, enjoys approbation in the society and has taken the Court through various extracts of relevant documents showing "that he has given due credit and footnoted relevant parts," "basis the published letter defamatory tweets are being posted on Twitter," prima facie falsely accusing him of plagiarism.

Therefore the bench held that, "A case for ad-interim injunction is made by @vikramsampath and if relief is not granted substantial irreparable damage will be caused to the plaintiff and his reputation."

The Court further went on to restrain defendants from publishing any defamatory material online or offline against Sampath.

The plea filed through Adv. Mukesh Sharma, was argued by Adv. Raghav Awasthi on behalf of Sampath.

The suit states that historian Audrey Truschke and other persons namely Ananya Chakravarti and Rohit Chopra vide their letter dated February 11 to the Royal Historical Society in London had levelled serious allegations of plagiarism against Sampath, allegedly falsely stating that an essay written by Sampath for a Journal had plagiarized content from an essay written by one Vinayak Chaturvedi. 

Sampath has submitted that the allegation is absurd inasmuch as a perusal of the article in question would "establish beyond all reasonable doubt that Mr. Vinayak Chaturvedi has been cited," the suit read.

Accordingly, the suit sought for a decree of to cease the publication of the letter or any other defamatory material.

The suit also sought damage of Rs. 2 crores from the said defendants.

Cause Title: Dr. Vikram Sampath vs Dr. Audrey Trushchke & Ors.