The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Twitter to take down within 48 hours the tweets of historian Audrey Truschke, in which the allegation of plagiarism was made against historian Vikram Sampath in connection with his works on Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. The court’s order came after Truschke failed to appear in the court proceedings initiated on the petition filed by Sampath. The tweets were connected to the letters accusing Sampath of plagiarism over his two-volumed biography of Vinayak Damodar Savarkar, the publication of which was injuncted by the court earlier this year.

The order was passed after Sampath moved a fresh application against Trushcke seeking directions from the court to take down the tweets. The court had earlier restrained Truschke, Dr Ananya Chakrabarti and Dr Rohit Chopra from publishing any more letters accusing Sampath of plagiarism.

“Despite ad interim injunction passed by this Court vide orders 18th February, 2022 and 24th February, 2022, the defendant no.1 continues to post defamatory material against the plaintiff on the platform of the defendant no. 4/Twitter. Further, the defendant no.1 has failed to enter appearance before this court,” said Justice Amit Bansal in an order, reported Live Law.

The court noted that the allegations made in the tweets are defamatory and restrained the defendants from publishing the letters in whole or in part in pursuance of the earlier orders. Justice Amit Bansal, hearing Sampath’s application seeking the removal of the tweets, said that the tweets are defamatory in nature and contain links to the “very same letters” whose publication was restrained by the court earlier.

On February 11, three US-based academics had written a letter to the Royal Historical Society where Sampath is a fellow. They urged the body to put Sampath’s work under the scanner. Terming it a “smear campaign” aimed at playing him down for showing the “academic courage and gumption to challenge the prevailing narrative around a historical figure,” Sampath has claimed damages worth Rs 2 crore and 100 rupees and a permanent injunction against the said defendants.

On February 18, the High Court passed an ad-interim order, restraining the three academics from posting the letter or any other defamatory material in respect of Mr. Sampath on Twitter as well as any other online or offline platforms, till the next date of hearing. “In my view, plaintiff has made a prima facie case for grant of ad interim injunction in his favour. The continued publication of the aforesaid letter has been causing considerable harm to the plaintiff’s reputation and career. Balance of convenience is in favour of the plaintiff and further irreparable harm and injury would be cause to the plaintiff if ad interim injunction is not granted,” the court said.

He further informed the court that he had properly cited the work of other scholars wherever necessary. On February 18, the High Court had restrained Truschke and others from publishing any defamatory content targetting Sampath in the matter. The high court had on February 24 ordered Twitter to take down five tweets put out by Truschke against Sampath.

The matter has been posted for hearing on July 28.

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