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BBC docu case: Delhi court issues fresh summons on defamation suit by BJP leader
A Delhi court on Friday issued fresh summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and others in a defamation suit seeking to restrain them from publishing the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi
New Delhi: A Delhi court on Friday issued fresh summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and others in a defamation suit seeking to restrain them from publishing the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or any other material related to the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Additional District Judge Ruchika Singla of Rohini Courts in a suit filed by BJP leader Binay Kumar Singh observed that the BBC and other defendants -- Wikimedia Foundation and the US-based digital library Internet Archive -- are foreign entities and the service of summons must be effected as per guidelines issued by Delhi High Court.
Earlier, it was opposed that since the defendants are foreign entities, the service could be effected only as per the procedure prescribed.
During the hearing, the court on Friday said that mere filing of 'vakalatnama' by the lawyers shall not do away with the mandatory requirement of the service of summons on the defendant entities under the prescribed procedure.
"Hence, by virtue of the same, it is clear that as per the rules formulated under the Hague Convention and by the Government of India, the summons/ notices in foreign countries can be effected only through the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law and Justice, which has admittedly not been done in the present case," the court said.
It added: "It is directed that the summons be issued afresh to the defendants on filing of PF within 7 days to be served through the Department of Legal Affairs, Ministry of Law & Justice, as per rules."
The court had earlier issued summons.
Singh, who claims to be the state executive committee member of the Jharkhand BJP and an active volunteer of the RSS and VHP, moved the suit through advocate Mukesh Sharma stating that the claims made in the documentary against the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are made with the intention of defaming the organisations and its volunteers.
"The allegations made against the RSS and VHP are motivated by a malicious intent to defame the organisations and its millions of members/volunteers. Such unfounded allegations are not only baseless but also have the potential to damage the reputation and image of the RSS, VHP and its millions of members/ volunteers, who have committed themselves to upholding the cultural, social and national values of India," the suit states.
The two-volume documentary series that has already been banned is nevertheless easily accessible in the public domain on Wikimedia and the Internet Archive, Singh has argued.
"The Defendant No.1 (BBC), strategically and purposefully disseminated unfounded rumours without verifying the authenticity of the claims. Furthermore, the accusations made therein foster animosity between multiple faith communities, in particular Hindus and Muslims," the suit says.
Singh has also sought an order of unconditional apology by the defendants, to him, the RSS, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for the allegedly "libellous and defamatory content" that was included in the two-volume documentary series.
The suit states: "The plaintiff has worked assiduously over decades to build his career and reputation, and if this matter is left unchecked, it will permanently demolish the Plaintiffs hard-earned reputation and career. Therefore, even though the Plaintiff is a champion of free speech, he is compelled to seek an immediate injunction to safeguard his reputation and livelihood."