Plagiarism row: ₹20K cost imposed on Nitish

Legal trouble A former JNU scholar, Atul Kumar Singh, has alleged that a plagiarised version of his research work was published as a book endorsed by Mr. Kumar. File Photo   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

The Delhi High Court has dismissed Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar’s plea to delete his name as a defendant from a lawsuit on copyright violation filed by a former JNU scholar-turned-politician. The court also imposed a cost of ₹20,000 on him.

Joint Registrar Sanjeev Aggarwal, while passing the order on Wednesday, observed the application was “sheer abuse of process of the law” as the plaintiff [the scholar] was entitled to choose the defendants.

Atul Kumar Singh, a former JNU student has alleged that the book published by Patna-based Asian Development Research Institute (ADRI), through its Member Secretary Shaibal Gupta, and endorsed by Mr. Kumar, is a plagiarised version of his research. Mr. Singh, who belongs to Bihar’s Saran district, had contested Lok Sabha elections from Chapra in 2004 as an independent candidate.

Mala fide intention: CM

In his application, the Chief Minister said he had no association with the other defendants and the book titled ‘Special Category Status: A Case for Bihar’. He also contended that he had only endorsed the book and not authored it.

“No cause of action was made out for instituting and maintaining the suit,” Mr. Kumar said, adding that he had been impleaded with a “mala fide” intention.

The Joint Registrar, however, turned down his contention and noted that two of the scholar’s supervisors from JNU had certified his work as original. The research was released on May 14, 2009, a day before the book came out. “The facts are cumulatively sufficient to give right to sue to the plaintiff [Singh] against defendant no.1 [Kumar].”

According to the order, “...the present interim application [by Nitish Kumar] is sheer abuse of process of law. Same is dismissed with cost of ₹20,000”.

Damages worth ₹25 lakh

The Chief Minister’s counsel has said the order will be challenged before an appropriate Bench of the High Court.

Apart from Mr. Kumar, the complainant has claimed damages totalling ₹25 lakh from the defendants, who include Mr. Gupta, the ADRI, and its sister concern - Centre for Economic Policy and Public Finance.

The matter will now be referred to a judge for final adjudication after the pleadings involving recording of evidence, framing of issues and cross-examination are done.

The chief proctor of JNU from 2006 to 2010 is also party in the matter. His counsels Monika Arora and Kushal Kumar have contended that Mr. Singh was a student at the university in 2013, therefore, JNU has no role in the matter as of today.

Mr. Singh had moved the High Court in 2010 alleging that his Ph.D thesis ‘Role of State in Economic Transformation: A case Study of Contemporary Bihar’ of 2006 was released on May 15, 2009, as a book titled ‘Special Category Status, A Case for Bihar’. He said that since the subject of his research involved an economic survey, he had got in touch with the ADRI. The petitioner claimed that, initially, the book was shown to be “authored” by Nitish Kumar. When Mr. Singh complained, the ADRI brought out another version “endorsed” by the Bihar Chief Minister.

He alleged that Mr. Gupta played a “pivotal role” in illegally transferring his research to Mr. Kumar.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2021 2:19:08 AM |

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