IIPM files Rs 50 crore lawsuit against The Caravan magazine

By afaqs! news bureau , afaqs!, New Delhi | In Media Publishing | June 23, 2011
The lawsuit, apart from the Delhi Press, has charged Penguin Publishers, author of the article Siddhartha Deb, and Google India, for maligning the image of IIPM and Arindam Chaudhuri.

The Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) has filed a lawsuit against The Caravan magazine citing 'grave harassment and injury' to the brand IIPM and is seeking damages worth Rs 50 crore. According to the petition, the latter had published a false and defamatory article, making false imputations against IIPM.

In its February 2011 issue, The Caravan magazine had published a cover story on Arindam Chaudhuri, director, IIPM, 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, the contributing editor at The Caravan.

The article talked about how Chaudhuri has built an image for himself, and how he runs his educational institution.

An official statement released by the magazine publisher, Delhi Press says, "The Caravan's profile of Arindam Chaudhuri was the most thorough article published to date on the subject. The 10,000-word story was the result of several months of work by Siddhartha Deb, which included interviews with Arindam Chaudhuri himself, and many of his close associates who spoke openly about the IIPM and its critics, coverage of Chaudhuri's public functions and an account of considerable time spent on the IIPM campus. The piece is distinguished by both its detailed research and its refined literary style."

The petition has been filed by Kishorendu Gupta (who operates Gupta Electrical Engineers) at the Court of Civil Judge in Silchar district. Gupta is the first plaintiff. IIPM is the second plaintiff in the case.

The petition says that the author (Deb) and editors of The Caravan were aware that the information published was false and written with the intention to defame IIPM, as well as its counsellor such as Gupta. Gupta is a commissioned agent who works for the IIPM on a contractual basis.

Apart from The Caravan and its proprietors, the suit also charges Deb, Penguin (the publisher of the upcoming book by Deb in which the article forms a chapter), and Google India. As per the petition, Google has been "publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating and blogging the defamatory, libellous and slanderous articles".

While talking to afaqs! about the case, Anant Nath, director, Delhi Press Group, wonders why IIPM filed the case from Silchar. "The lawsuit has not been filed in Delhi, where both IIPM and Delhi Press are based, but some 2,200 km away in Silchar." He goes on to claim that though IIPM filed the case from Silchar, no one appeared on its behalf on the first hearing of the case (on June 6).

Nath adds that the civil court in Silchar granted IIPM a preliminary injunction, enjoining Delhi Press to remove the article in question from its website, without any pre-hearing notice.

Delhi Press claims that if the 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 "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," states the official statement by Delhi Press.

This is not the first time that IIPM has filed a lawsuit against a publishing house. In the past, it has filed similar lawsuits against Rashmi Bansal, blogger and and the editor of Just Another Magazine (JAM), in 2005, and Careers360 magazine (in 2009).

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