Note: our analysis and live blog of developments around these blocks.
IIPM has issued an official response, from Prof Arindam Chaudhuri, via his twitter account, saying that a suit had been filed against Google, asking for the URLs to be removed. The Court had asked Google to remove these URLs but they weren’t, so the Court asked ICERT (India’s cyber security body) to block “those defamatory URLs). Chaudhuri says he has no issues with satire sites, and “In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech.”
This response follows a deluge of criticism of Chaudhari and IIPM both on Twitter, and by media publications, following MediaNama’s news-break last evening on DOT issuing orders to block URLs criticising IIPM.
Chaudhari criticises (defames?) UGC and AICTE saying that they are “organizations full of bribe-seeking corrupt officials where, even at the top, they have a track record of being caught red-handed and being jailed. The standard of education they have created in the nation is shameful, to say the least.”
On Google, he says that “My views on this topic are like an open book. I have written about it in my magazine, The Sunday Indian (http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/internet-hooliganism/15161/ ) and spoken about it on my video blog ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2TONeK-ftc). I stand by them.”
IIPM’s official response
IIPM’s official response (from Prof Arindam Chaudhuri) on the order to remove defamatory links:
The matter is sub judice and I should ideally not be saying much; yet, let me make five simple points.
1. Last year, one of our channel partners had filed a suit against Google and submitted to various ISPs information on certain articles (that he considered defamatory and were affecting his business) about IIPM on the Internet. After hearing the suit, the Hon’ble Court had asked Google to remove those links as they were found to be defamatory in nature. However, Google failed to comply with the order and subsequently, the Hon’ble Court asked ICERT to block those defamatory URLs till further orders. It also issued a notice to IIPM to be one of the respondents. We shall file our reply in the Hon’ble Court soon.
2. As far as satire sites are concerned, I neither have any objections on any non-defamatory satire, nor would I have filed anything against them were I to do the same personally. In a democracy, satire is basic freedom of speech. However, I am glad that defamatory links that had been put up with a malicious intent have been ordered to be removed, as should be the case in any functional democracy.
3. With respect to UGC links, I should say UGC and AICTE are organizations full of bribe-seeking corrupt officials where, even at the top, they have a track record of being caught red-handed and being jailed. The standard of education they have created in the nation is shameful, to say the least. IIPM is proud to have no affiliation with them and proud that it imparts a quality of education that is at par with the best globally, which is, might I say, thanks to our independence of approach and non-caring attitude towards UGC. I suspect that UGC – at the behest of some of our petty competitors with dirty past records of filth and cheating, and public notices against them (some who now even boast of being supposedly ‘top-class’ universities) – had been deliberately spreading misleading information about IIPM to hurt its business interests and had even gone to the extent of falsely calling IIPM a fake university. For the same, the Delhi High Court had reprimanded UGC and given it a clear direction to remove the allegation because IIPM, like ISB, neither gives any degree of its own, has never claimed to do the same, nor has it ever called itself a university. UGC’s false campaign is utterly defamatory against which IIPM has also released public notices in newspapers; and the same are available on the net (http://www.prlog.org/10922103-the-ugc-claims-and-the-iipm.html ). This country guarantees the right to educate and teach and there is no law or body that can try and curb that right. It is the free will of an educationist to decide to either be a part of a corrupt and questionable body or remain independent. At IIPM, all our websites and communication material proudly announce that we have nothing to do with the UGC/AICTE and students interested in statutory recognition need not apply to IIPM (Please view screenshot attached below from the IIPM official FAQ page)
There are hundreds of Institutions in the country which have nothing to do with UGC; then why aren’t such individual notices issued by UGC against each one of those institutions, including the ISB? So there is no doubt about the malicious and agenda-driven defamatory intent of the UGC/AICTE campaign. I am glad that the court has now ordered the removal of those links.
4. As far as Google and the concept of freedom of speech is concerned, I am all for it; but freedom of speech does not mean freedom to spread lies and freedom to defame. Criticism is always welcome but defamation isn’t and the line must not be crossed. Criticising somebody’s mother’s sense of dressing is criticism, but calling her a whore is defamation. Anything that is a lie or is defamatory must be challenged in the courts and if the courts find merit, the lie and defamatory content must be removed – be it a single URL or multiple URLs. Worldwide, this is what is the common practice against anything that is defamatory. My views on this topic are like an open book. I have written about it in my magazine, The Sunday Indian (http://www.thesundayindian.com/en/story/internet-hooliganism/15161/ ) and spoken about it on my video blog ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2TONeK-ftc). I stand by them.
5. All media houses which have written that they tried to contact me by SMS/e-mail on this particular matter and claim that I didn’t respond, are simply lying. Only FirstPost.com, Economic Times and Millennium Post had the decency to try and contact us; and they immediately got a response (see their respective articles here; http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/tech/internet/directed-by-gwalior-court-government-blocks-70-urls-critical-of-iipm/articleshow/18523107.cms; http://www.firstpost.com/tech/arindam-chaudhury-on-dot-blocking-73-urls-critical-of-iipm-627714.html ; http://www.millenniumpost.in/NewsContent.aspx?NID=20992). However, this is where my response on this topic ends. Anybody and everybody is free to use the same.