ANI Files Rs 2 Crore Defamation Suit Against Wikipedia Before Delhi High Court, Summons Issued

    ANI Media Private Limited has filed suit against Wikipedia before the Delhi High Court over allegedly defamatory description of the news agency.

    Justice Navin Chawla issued notice on ANI’s plea seeking interim relief in the suit and listed the matter for hearing next on August 20.

    ANI has sought to restrain Wikipedia from publishing allegedly defamatory content on the news agency’s page on its platform. It has also sought removal of the content. ANI has further sought Rs. 2 crores as damages from Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia’s page says ANI “has been criticized for having served as a propaganda tool for the incumbent central government, distributing materials from a vast network of fake news websites, and misreporting events.”

    Advocate Sidhanth Kumar appearing for ANI told court that the content mentioned in the description is defamatory. He said that Wikipedia, which is an intermediary, is a platform which is now used as a public utility and cannot behave as a private actor.

    Kumar further said that Wikipedia has closed ANI’s page for editing by the news agency, except its editors.

    Justice Chawla orally remarked that Wikipedia is entitled to have opinions and that it will explain its actions before the court.

    At the end of the day, they are entitled to have opinions…They’ll come and explain. It’s a pure case of defamation,” the court said.

    In its suit against Wikimedia Foundation and its officials, ANI has said that the former has allegedly published palpably false and defamatory content with malicious intent of tarnishing the news agency’s reputation and to discredit its goodwill.

    Some of the publications on the Wikipedia page for which ANI is aggrieved are:

    – Under a new management, ANI has been accused of practicing an aggressive model of has over 500 Employees. Asian journalism focused at maximum revenue output, where journalists were easily dispensable with. Multiple employees have accused ANI of not having any human resource management system and ill-treating their ex-employees.

    – On 20 July 2023, ANI falsely blamed Muslims for the sexual assault and rape of two Kuki women during the 2023 Manipur violence.

    ANI has alleged that Wikimedia, through its officials, has actively participated in removing the edits to reverse the content.

    “Thus, the conduct of Defendant No. 1 has resulted in a loss of its safe-harbour protection under section 79(1) of the Act, and made it liable for hosting and publishing defamatory content,” the suit states.


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