Professor Arindam Chaudhuri, head of business school Indian Institute of Planning & Management (IIPM), in an exclusive email interview with Firstpost said that 73 URLs carrying content related to IIPM were blocked following an interim court order on a case filed by one of his companies.
On Friday, the Department of Telecommunication (DoT) ordered Internet Service Licensees to block 73 URLs carrying content which critiqued IIPM. MediaNama was the first to report on this. Read more here
Chaudhuri told Firstpost that last year one of his firms filed a suit against Google regarding defamatory articles available online. After Google failed to comply by the order asking it to remove the content, Chaudhuri said, the court asked CERT-in (Computer Emergency Response Team-India) to block ‘defamatory’ URLs till further orders. “The court has issued notice to IIPM to be as one of the respondent as well and we shall file our reply.”
The block order, signed by Subodh Saxena of DoT, covers the URLs of UGC stating that IIPM is not a UGC recognised institute.
Chaudhuri said that the UGC has created a shameful standard of education in the country and he is proud not to have his institution affiliated to UGC.
“I suspect that UGC — at the behest of some of our petty competitors with dirty past records of filth and cheating, and public notices against them — had been deliberately spreading misleading information about IIPM to hurt its business interests and had even gone to the extent of falsely calling IIPM a fake university,” Chaudhuri told Firstpost.
Gulshan Rai, director general, CERT-In, the body authorised to block URLs told Mint that he followed the order of a Gwalior Court in blocking the URLs.
The block covers URLs of Firstpost, Outlook magazine, Economic Times, The Times of India, Wall Street Journal and The Indian Express.
The stories carried by Caravan magazine and educational publication ‘Careers 360’ which were critical of IIPM have also been blocked.
The list also includes eight URLs of the fakingnews- a satire website. Chudhuri said has nothing against satire and have never moved court against them. “In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech. However, I am glad that defamatory links with malicious interests have been ordered to be removed.”
Mahesh Murthy’s compilation of articles related to IIPM, uploaded on bitly, also stand blocked. “I have not seen the Court order. But I am taken aback because by ordering blockage of the URL of UGC, the court has implied that UGC has committed libel. The Court has taken away all the protection UGC gave to students. Now, IIPM can fool them,” Murthy, founder of Pinstorm, a digital advertising firm, told Firstpost. “I hope that somebody challenges the order in a higher court,” he added.
The URL carrying Caravan magazine’s press release published by Kafila in June 2011 has also been blocked. The press release was issued after Chaudhuri filed a lawsuit against the magazine for its cover story titled “Sweet Smell of Success: How Arindam Chaudhuri Made a Fortune Off the Aspirations—and Insecurities—of India’s Middle Classes”.
Shivam Vij, blogger and founder of Kafila, said, “This is against the principle of natural justice. First, the court blocked the URL without giving me a chance to defend myself. And after it was blocked, I was not informed,”he said.
As a sign of protest, Kafila reproduced the blocked content on Friday.
Among other offences, court orders blocking of websites in matters where the aggrieved party complains of defamation, copy right infringement and trademark infringement.
Delhi-based lawyer and expert on cyber law, Apar Gupta, said, “There have been occasions where courts have given interim order asking the enforcement agency to block the URLs to prevent further damage to the complainant. Material remains blocked or the block is lifted depending on the court’s final order which even take years.”
Gupta added that in some cases related to online content, courts take a liberal view in applying the standards of governing defamation and copyright infringement.
Following is IIPM’s official response, from Prof Arindam Chaudhuri on the order to remove defamatory links:
1. The matter is subjudice I should not ideally be saying much yet let me just say, last year one of our channel partners had filed a suit against Google and submitted ISPs about certain defamatory articles about us on the internet. After hearing the suit, Hon’ble Court had asked Google to remove those links. However, Google failed to comply by the order and subsequently, the Hon’ble Court asked ICERT to block the those defamatory URLs till further orders after hearing the application filed by him and issued notice to IIPM to be as one of the respondent as well and we shall file our reply in the Hon’ble Court
2. As far as satire sites are concerned, I neither have any objections on any satire, nor would I have filed anything against them were I to do the same personally. In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech. However, I am glad that defamatory links with malicious interests have been ordered to be removed.
3. With respect to UGC links, I would say UGC and AICTE are organisations full of bribe-seeking corrupt people where even at the top they have a track record of being caught red handed and being jailed. The standard of education they have created in the nation is shameful, to say the least. IIPM is proud to have no affiliation with them and proud that it imparts a quality of education that is at par with the best globally, which is, might I say, thanks to our independence of approach and non-caring attitude towards UGC. I suspect that UGC — at the behest of some of our petty competitors with dirty past records of filth and cheating, and public notices against them (some who now even boast of being supposedly ‘top-class’ universities) — had been deliberately spreading misleading information about IIPM to hurt its business interests and had even gone to the extent of falsely calling IIPM a fake university. For the same, the Delhi High Court had reprimanded UGC and given it a clear direction to remove the allegation because IIPM, like ISB, neither gives any degree of its own, has never claimed to do the same, nor has it ever called itself a university. UGC’s false campaign is utterly defamatory against which IIPM has also released public notices in newspapers and the same are available on the net. So there is no doubt about the defamatory intent of the UGC/AICTE campaign and I am glad that the court has now ordered the removal of those links.