The Delhi High Court today restrained Audrey Truschke, Ananya Chaturvedi, Rohit Chopra, Abishek Baxi and Ashok Swain from publishing any defamatory content against Dr. Vikram Sampath, including the letter addressed by them to the Royal Historical Society alleging plagiarism against Dr. Sampath.

A Bench of Justice Amit Bansal was hearing a suit filed by Dr. Sampath seeking damages to the tune of 2 crores for defamation. In the suit, Dr. Sampath had sought an interim injunction against publishing the letter and removal of tweets containing information in relation thereto.

The Bench granted the ad-interim injunction and noted, that Plaintiff has shown that he has given due credit and footnoted his works. On the basis of the publication of this letter, defamatory tweets were made on Twitter. "In my view plaintiff has made a case for an ad interim injunction", the continued publication of this letter has caused great harm to the plaintiff, the Court noted.

The injunction is granted and the defendants are restrained from publishing the letter in any online or offline forums. Specific URL's to be provided to defendant no 4 i.e Twitter to take down the alleged defamatory tweets, the Court ordered.

Advocate Raghav Awasthi appeared for Dr. Sampath, Advocate Jawar Raja appeared for Annanya Chaturvedi and Senior Advocate Sajan Poovayya appeared for Twitter.

Raghav Awasthi contended that his client has cited all authors whose work has allegedly been plagiarised and has footnoted every source possible. He contended that as an academic, reputation is all he has.

Jawar Raja contended that when he was borrowing an entire idea the referencing needs to follow a different pattern and he further contended that the issue is more of plagiarism than copyright infringement.

Senior Advocate contended that Twitter is an intermediary and it is not for them to decide which is tweet is defamatory. They will take down the tweets on the direction of the court

The Court will next hear the matter on April 1.

Characters in play

Dr. Vikram is a historian who has filed a suit against Audrey Trushke, Ananya Chakravarti, and Rohit Chopra. He has also alleged that defamatory tweets were made against him by Twitter users Abhishek Baxi and Ashok Swain.

Audrey Trushke and Ananya Chakravarti are professors of History at Rutgers University and Georgetown University while Rohit Chopra is a professor of communication at Santa Clara University.

The Controversy

Dr. Vikram Sampath recently was elected as a member of the Royal Historical Society. Audrey Trushke, Chakravarti, and Chopra on 11th February wrote a letter to Emma Griffin, president of the society alleging that they found a "pervasive, long-standing pattern of plagiarism" in the work of Dr. Sampath.

It was further alleged that an article penned by Dr. Sampath in a journal on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar was heavily plagiarized. They also alleged that the latest, 2 volume-biography on Savarkar also contains plagiarized matters.

CASE TITLE: Dr. Vikram Sampath vs. Audrey Trushkey and Ors