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Praveen Sinha files case against The Ken in Hajipur

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The Ken‘s pre-launch story on the alleged conflict of interest in the sale of GoJavas to Quickdel logistics, and then to Snapdeal, has been taken down. The story page currently carries a notice saying

This article has been taken down in compliance with an ex-parte interim injunction dated September 1, 2016 received by us on September 5, 2016. The injunction dated September 1, 2016 has been passed by the Hon’ble Court of Sub-Judge 1st, Vaishali, Hajipur, Bihar.

In response to queries from MediaNama, the Ken has issued the following statement:

“On 5-Sept 2016 we received an ex-parte injunction notice from a lawyer representing former Jabong Managing Director, Praveen Sinha. The order was passed by the court of the 1st Sub-Judge, Vaishali, Hajipur, Bihar, and asked us to remove a story we had published titled “How Rocket Internet Got Pushed Out of GoJavas” . Subsequently, we complied with the order as is reflected on our website. We were not made aware of this case nor of its court proceedings. We also do not have the full documents related to it. Thus and since the matter is sub-judice, we’re still finalizing our legal strategy. Nonetheless we completely stand by the factual accuracy of our article.”

In response to a call from MediaNama, Praveen Sinha initially declined to comment, then said that “you should ask Ken that what was the source based on which they made the publication. I think that is the right question”…”The only point is that it was unfair journalism. First, they did not even intend to get a clarification from me when they published. And that Ken should confirm. And, I think a lot of allegations were made etc without checking any facts etc. And it was like a storytelling from their side without even checking with the parties who were engaged”…”Did the investors confirm? Did I confirm? But the story was done. Based on a report (Editor: The PWC report), which none of them has confirmed.”

On MediaNama pointing out that the story mentioned that The Ken had reached out to Sinha for comments, and that he hadn’t responded, Sinha said that “They sent me one SMS late evening, and the next morning the story was published. And I was travelling. I was on a flight and when I landed I received the SMS”…”Credible journalism should give at least 48 hours, 72 hours. 6 hours, I don’t think it is fair journalism, to my mind”…”Many journalists actually misuse this, without checking facts etc”…”So I did not act. I just clarified my position and whoever did not try to be fair…I will go after them. I have nothing to lose…defamation. At that time also I told, what you can damage is damaged. Even in print, it will come in a very small paragraph. But my friends and family got impacted. Personally I also got impacted. That is the thing.”

Sinha declined to comment on why the case has been filed in Hajipur.

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We reached out to The Ken for an additional comment, and they said that “We also received a call last month from the cyber crime cell of the Gurgaon Police for a criminal defamation complaint made against us by Praveen Sinha. We are also taking steps to defend ourselves in any proceedings which may arise in Gurgaon. To reiterate, we stand by our story completely.”

Things to note about this

A few things to note here that are important:

  1. It is ex-parte: which means that the injunction, which restrains the publication from making the content of the story available, was granted without representatives of the Ken being present.
  2. It is interim: which means that there’s a possibility that it may be removed in the future following a hearing, or it may persist.
  3. It was granted in Hajipur in Bihar: most of the founders of The Ken are based in Bangalore, and Jabong, Snapdeal and GoJavas (and probably Sinha), in Delhi-NCR. Because the Internet is available everywhere, and injunction can be granted by any court anywhere. If the case continues for a while, the representatives (and/or founders) of The Ken and the plaintiff will have to go to the court in Hajipur, Bihar. To get to Hajipur, one needs to take a flight to Patna, the capital of Bihar: there are around 11 flights a day from Delhi, and twice a day from Bangalore. Then it takes an hour to drive down to the Hajipur court.
  4. There may be multiple complaints: While the law allows for cases to be filed anywhere, the process of fighting the case is often the punishment. Take Mahesh Peri’s and Careers360’s crusade against IIPM, which they eventually won. IIPM had filed 14 cases in Uttarakhand, Delhi, Chandigarh, Kamrup and Guwahati in Assam.

We have no way of knowing how long this case will take, but our editorial position is: defamation needs to be decriminalised (India is one of the few countries where this persists), cases for an infringement need to be limited to one case and not many.

Note: please keep the comments to this post civil. In case there are any specific comments for which MediaNama may be held liable, or anything is flagged to us, we will have to take them down.

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Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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