The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed Twitter to take down five tweets by historian Audrey Truschke in which she accused another historian, Vikram Sampath, of plagiarism, Bar and Bench reported.
Truschke had accused Sampath of plagiarising content in his works on Hindutva ideologue Vinayak Damodar Savarkar. While Truschke is an Associate Professor of History at Rutgers University in the United States, Sampath is an elected fellow of the Royal Historical Society in London.
The court was hearing an application in a defamation suit filed by Sampath against Truschke and two other academics – Ananya Chakravarti, Associate Professor of History at Georgetown University and Rohit Chopra, Associate Professor of Communication, Santa Clara University.
The three academicians had on February 11 written a letter to the Royal Historical Society in London claiming that Sampath’s two-volume biography of Savarkar bore sentences that were similar to published research and books. They also alleged that some phrases and sentences in an essay by Sampath from 2017 are similar to essays written by historians Vinayak Chaturvedi and Janaki Bakhle.
The letter went on to request the Royal Historical Society to examine Sampath’s membership in light of these allegations.
Sampath, his application, claimed that the three historians later sent another communication to the society accusing him of plagiarism, and that these allegations were also posted on Twitter.
The High Court on Thursday, however, did not pass any orders directing Truschke and the others to withdraw the letter to the society, or any further such communication, Live Law reported.
The court also did not pass orders directing Facebook to take down such posts, as it was not a party to the application. Justice Amit Bansal, however, issued notice to Facebook in the matter.
Justice Bansal also did not pass any orders against news portal The Wire, which had reported on the plagiarism allegations. The court said that it will not pass any such order against the news portal as it had only published Bakhle’s claims.
Allegations ‘clearly libellous’, alleges Sampath
In the suit before the High Court, Sampath claimed that the charges against him are “clearly libellous”.
He claimed that the essay in question was the transcript of an “almost extempore speech” delivered by him. Despite this, in the “highest traditions of academic integrity”, he said that he cited Chaturvedi and a host of other authors in the endnotes.
As far as copying from another historian, Janaki Bakhle, goes, Sampath said that she had reviewed his book for a magazine and did not say anything about plagiarism charges.
On the charge of him copying an undergraduate student’s thesis in his book on Savarkar, he claimed that they both have “cited the same essay” and thus this “charge is also ridiculous”.
Sampath added that the “decidedly defamatory” letter was written “as part of an international smear campaign” to discredit him since he “has shown the academic courage and gumption to challenge the prevailing narrative around a historical figure like Sh VD Savarkar”.