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Thursday, June 1, 2023

Delhi HC quashes summons in criminal defamation case by JNU professor against ‘The Wire’

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday set aside a summoning order issued by a magistrate’s court in criminal defamation proceedings initiated by a Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) Professor Amita Singh against news publication ‘The Wire’.

In 2016, Singh had filed a criminal defamation case against ‘The Wire’, its editor Siddharth Varadrajan and reporter Ajoy Ashirwad Mahaprashasta.

Justice Anup Jairam Bhambhani, who was hearing the matter, passed it stating that there was no material before the magistrate to support the summoning order.

“As a sequitur to the above, summoning order dated 07.01.2017 made by the learned Metropolitan Magistrate in criminal complaint bearing C.C. No. 32203/2016 cannot be sustained in law; and is accordingly quashed and set-aside,” the single-judge bench said.

Justice Bhambhani also noted that the publication neither claimed that Singh was involved in any wrongdoing nor did it speak of the respondent (Singh) in any derogatory, derisive, or denigrating terms.

“This court is unable to discern therefore, as to how the subject publication can be said to have defamed the respondent.”

Singh’s case stemmed from a story published by the news portal stating that a group of JNU professors compiled a 200-page dossier calling the university a “den of organised sex racket”.

The dossier, however, was titled “Jawaharlal Nehru University: The Den of Secessionism and Terrorism” according to The Wire and it was stated that Singh, who is a professor at the Centre for Law and Governance, was leading the group of teachers that prepared the report.

The Wire’s story read that the report in question was submitted to the university’s administration and that it accused some of its teachers of encouraging a decadent culture in JNU and legitimising separatist movements in Bharat.

The Wire was represented by senior advocate Nitya Ramakrishnan along with advocates Rahul Kripalani, Rea Bhalla, and Supraja V. and advocate Alok Kumar Rai appeared for the respondent.

(This article has been published via a syndicated feed with minor edits to conform to HinduPost style guide)

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