‘Reckless, not factual’: Delhi HC orders RSS mouthpiece to remove ‘defamatory article’ on Christian school principal

The story alleged that the school’s principal was involved in sexual activities with students and staff.

WrittenBy:NL Team
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Coming down heavily on Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh weekly Organiser and The Commune for publishing reports “without any factual verification”, the Delhi high court has ordered the publications to take down their “defamatory articles” against a Delhi-based Christian school principal.

According to Bar and Bench, both publications in June had “reported” that the principal was involved in sexual activities with students and staff, “exploiting nuns and Hindu women”. Organiser called it an “Indian Catholic church sex scandal”.

The principal moved the court against both publications, saying their claims were untrue and that he had “never been involved in any sexual activity as alleged or a financial wrongdoing with any staff member, chef, student or nuns etc in any manner”.

He also filed a police complaint against Organiser and The Commune. He said the reports were “published without verification of the allegations” and had been published solely to “harm his reputation”.

The reports were not removed despite two legal notices being sent on August 3 and 4. 

The court said the Organiser report was prima facie “reckless” and tarnished the image and reputation of the school principal. Justice Jyoti Singh said the contents of the article in question are “defamatory on the face of it” and the right to freedom of speech and expression “cannot be taken as an unfettered right” to defame a person.

It has been repeatedly held by courts that the fundamental right to freedom of speech has to be counterbalanced with the right of reputation of an individual,” the high court bench said.

The court then directed Organiser and The Commune to remove the articles from their websites.

However, this is not the first time the RSS mouthpiece has published a story with unverified claims. Newslaundry had earlier reported how the weekly had falsely claimed the exodus of 346 Hindu families from Kairana in Uttar Pradesh. Last month, the publication linked an Assam BJP leader’s murder to ‘love jihad’, while the family refuted the claims. Notably, Organiser was the first and seemingly the only publication to report the incident with a ‘love jihad’ angle. Read here. 

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