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Twitter ordered to delete US academic’s tweets accusing Savarkar biographer of plagiarism

The Delhi High Court directs the social media platform to take down tweets of historian Audrey Truschke about Vikram Sampath, who was last week granted an injunction against her and other academics.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: February 25, 2022 3:39:31 am
Historian Dr Audrey Truschke. (File)

Acting on an application filed by VD Savarkar’s biographer Vikram Sampath, the Delhi High Court on Thursday ordered Twitter to take down within 48 hours certain tweets of American historian Audrey Truschke, days after she and some other academics were barred by the court from publishing a letter accusing Sampath of plagiarism.

The court’s February 18 order that restrained Truschke, Ananya Chakrabarti and Rohit Chopra from further publication of their letter alleging plagiarism in Sampath’s two-volume biography of Savarkar had also barred them from posting anything defamatory against the Indian author on any platform, online or offline.

On Thursday the court heard Sampath’s application seeking takedown of the tweets posted after the injunction order was passed. The application also mentioned certain communication written by Truschke, despite last week’s court order, alleging plagiarism by Sampath.

While advocate Jawahar Raja, representing Chakrabarti, cited freedom of speech to oppose any order for removing the tweets, Twitter submitted that it would not come in the way of the court’s orders.

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The letter written by the three US-based academics on February 11 was addressed to the Royal Historical Society, where Sampath is a fellow. They asked the society to subject Sampath’s body of work to scrutiny.

Seeking damages of Rs 2 crore and a permanent injunction against the academics, Sampath had said in his lawsuit that the letter was part of an “international smear campaign” to discredit him because “he has shown the academic courage and gumption to challenge the prevailing narrative around a historical figure”. The court was told that he had given references to other scholars’ work wherever it had been mentioned.

After hearing Sampath’s counsel last week, Justice Amit Bansal said he had made a prima facie case for an interim injunction and that the continued publication of the letter had caused “considerable damage” to his reputation and career.

Journalist Abhishek Baxi and academic Ashok Swain are also defendants in the case, but the court has not passed any order against them yet.

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