Arindam Chaudhuri defamation suit: Delhi High Court lifts gag on The Caravan magazine article slamming him

The Delhi High Court has lifted the injunction order against an article published in The Caravan in February 2011 on Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) director Arindam Chaudhuri, the magazine said in a press statement.

The high court bench, headed by Justice Manmohan, had passed the order vacating the gag order on 16 February.

According to the court order, Chaudhuri's advocate in the Delhi High Court had contended that The Caravan carried a morphed image of the IIPM founder, showing him as a magician/soothsayer with the intent to portray him as a trickster.

File image of IIPM founder Arindam Chaudhuri. Image courtesy:

File image of IIPM founder Arindam Chaudhuri. Image courtesy:

It was further argued that the article falsely called Chaudhuri a “fraud, scamster and Johnny-cum-lately” and made derogatory comments against him without any basis and with an intent to create a negative image of Chaudhuri.

Advocate Amit Gupta, appearing for The Caravan, argued that none of the impugned statements were made "recklessly or without proper research".

Citing the judgment delivered in the case of Shashi Tharoor vs Arnab Goswami, the Delhi High Court observed that the courts in India "have the power to pass pre-publication or pre-broadcasting injunction or prior restraint order in sub judice matters provided the two-pronged test of necessity and proportionality are satisfied and reasonable alternative methods or measures are not sufficient to prevent the said risk".

The Delhi High Court also made a reference to its 2014 judgment that found Chaudhuri's institute guilty of making "false and misleading" statements about its courses in its advertisements.

The court further observed:

"In the present case, if the impugned publication is read as a whole, this court prima facie finds that the impugned portions are either based on the statements made by several persons or on facts available in public domain and/or are the author’s personal opinions and conclusions based on extensive research and report."

The court vacated the injunction order and dismissed the application.

On Thursday, The Caravan said it was publishing the 2011 article on Chaudhuri again.  However, the page continued to display a message saying that it is blocked "as per the directions received from Department of Telecommunications, Government of India,” when this article was published.

The IIPM director had filed a Rs 50 crore defamation suit in 2011 against The Caravan, its proprietors, author Siddhartha Deb, the publishing house Penguin Books India and Google India.

The suit was filed at the Court of Civil Judge in Assam's Silchar against the magazine over the article titled 'Sweet smell of success — How Arindam Chaudhuri made a fortune of the aspirations and insecurities of India’s middle classes'.

The magazine then filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court, requesting the case be shifted to Delhi High Court. The apex court stayed the proceedings at Silchar-based court in August 2011, and transferred the case to the Delhi High Court in the same month.

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Updated Date: Feb 22, 2018 16:10:20 IST

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