Delhi High Court directs Twitter to take down historian Audrey Truschke’s tweets

Historian Vikram Sampath had gone to court against her plagiarism allegation

February 24, 2022 10:30 pm | Updated February 25, 2022 09:26 am IST - NEW DELHI

Historian Vikram Sampath. File

Historian Vikram Sampath. File

The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Twitter to take down within 48 hours the tweets of historian Audrey Truschke, in which the allegation of plagiarism was made against historian Vikram Sampath in connection with his works on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar.

The court issued the order on a fresh application by Mr. Sampath, seeking that the defamatory tweets against him be removed from Twitter. It also issued notice to Facebook as the letter allegedly containing the prima facie defamatory material was posted on the social media platform.

Mr. Sampath, who is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London and has written a two-volume biography of Savarkar, had earlier moved the court seeking ₹2 crore in damages from Ms. Truschke and two other authors of the letter, Ananya Chakravarti and Rohit Chopra, for defamation.

Seeks permanent injunction

He also sought a permanent injunction on the publication of the letter dated February 11, written by the three professors from the U.S. universities, to the president of the Royal Historical Society. The letter alleged that some phrases and sentences in an essay by Mr. Sampath in 2017 were similar to those penned by historians Vinayak Chaturvedi and Janaki Bakhle, a charge refuted by him as libellous.

On February 18, the High Court passed an ad-interim order, restraining the three academics from posting the letter or any other defamatory material in respect of Mr. Sampath on Twitter as well as any other online or offline platforms, till the next date of hearing.

“In my view, plaintiff has made a prima facie case for grant of ad interim injunction in his favour. The continued publication of the aforesaid letter has been causing considerable harm to the plaintiff’s reputation and career. Balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff and further irreparable harm and injury would be cause to the plaintiff if ad interim injunction is not granted,” the court said.

Orders by courts

Similar orders for taking down social media posts have been given by various courts in the past. In July last, the Delhi High Court directed RTI activist Saket Gokhale to remove his tweets against former Assistant Secretary-General to the United Nations Lakshmi Puri.

In October 2019, on a plea from yoga guru Ramdev and Patanjali Ayurved Limited, the Delhi High Court directed global takedown/removal/blocking/disabling by Google, YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, of the videos containing defamatory material. The social media platforms have challenged the order.

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