Update: On 26 April 2018, while hearing the IIPM’s appeal against the February order, a division bench of the court passed an ex-parte order restoring the injunction until the next hearing, which is scheduled to take place on 24 September. Pursuant to this latest order, The Caravan has once again taken down the story from its website. You can read more about IIPM’s case against The Caravan here.
On 16 February 2018, the Delhi High Court vacated an injunction against The Caravan’s February 2011 cover story, “Sweet Smell of Success,” a profile of Arindam Chaudhuri, the former honorary dean of the Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM). The profile was written by one of The Caravan’s contributing editors, Siddhartha Deb, a renowned novelist and university professor based in New York. It was widely acclaimed at the time of its publication for its thorough and even-handed portrayal of Mr Chaudhuri and the institute he headed.
IIPM had responded to the story by filing a civil defamation lawsuit against The Caravan. The suit, which seeks damages of Rs 500 million, was filed not in Delhi, where both IIPM and the magazine’s publisher Delhi Press are based, but 2,200 kilometres away in Silchar, Assam, 300 kilometres from Dispur, the state capital. The IIPM filed the case at the Court of Civil Judge in Silchar through one Kishorendu Gupta, who was plaintiff number one. IIPM was the second plaintiff.
IIPM had previously filed similar lawsuits against other publishers, also from civil courts in small towns of Assam rather than in Delhi, wherein it managed to obtain ex-parte interim injunctions against publications who attempted to question many of the claims made by the institute in its advertisements and brochures. In addition to the writer Siddhartha Deb, The Caravan’s editors and its publishers, the suit also impleaded Penguin (the publisher of a book by Deb in which the article was meant to be a chapter), and Google India (which, the suit alleged, had been “publishing, distributing, giving coverage, circulating, blogging the defamatory, libelous and slanderous articles”).
A civil court in Silchar had initially granted the IIPM a preliminary injunction, enjoining The Caravan magazine to remove the article in question from their website, ex-parte, without any pre-hearing notice.