Mon, 29 May 2023

New Delhi [India], May 26 (ANI): Delhi's Rohini Court on Friday reserved an order on the point of service of summon to BBC and other parties as per the Hague Convention. The court has reserved an order on this point for July 7. This matter pertains to the controversy over the documentary series "India: The Modi Question" which is banned in the country.

Additional District Judge (ADJ) Ruchika Singla reserved the order after hearing arguments on behalf of BBC (UK), Wikimedia and the Internet Archive. The court also heard the rebuttal arguments by the counsel for the plaintiff.

The defendants are at liberty to file written arguments within 10 days, the court directed. The court is hearing a plea seeking a direction restraining the publishing of the BBC Documentary based on PM Modi.

The counsel for BBC submitted that BBC is a foreign entity and service should be served as per the Hague Convention. The counsel also submitted that the plaintiff has used different emails of entity which is based in the UK. The other defendants Wikipedia Foundation and Internet Archive also adopted the arguments of counsel for BBC.

On the other hand, Advocate Mukesh Sharma, counsel for plaintiff, argued that BBC (UK) is not a party in the suit. He has filed the suit against BBC India which is not a foreign entity.

So there is no question following the process as per Hague Convention in the matter. He also submitted that the purpose of Summon is to make aware the party that a proceeding is in the court of law.

He also submitted that Wikimedia is cherry-picking the issue. The defendants had appeared in a matter in another court without raising the issue of the Hague Convention.

In this sense, the summons has been served to the parties as their counsels have appeared before the court and have argued. During the hearing, an application was moved on behalf of Internet Archive for deletion of its name from list of parties as it has removed the link to the content.

On the last date, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Wikimedia Foundation had raised the point of jurisdiction before the Court. They also submitted that they have not been served properly as per Hague Convention as they are foreign entities.

On May 3, the court issued a summon to these three organisations on a plea moved by Binay Kumar Singh. The court had also directed them to file their written statement within 30 days from the date of service of the summons.

The counsels for the BBC and Wikimedia Foundation had appeared in protest and submitted that they have not been served properly. The counsel also refused to accept the copy of the plea in the court.

The counsels submitted that they are appearing under protest as they have not been served properly as the defendant BBC and Wikimedia are foreign entities. The counsels also submitted that this court does not have the jurisdiction to try the present matter.

The counsel for BBC submitted that she has not received the copies as the service has not been effected properly upon the defendant BBC.

The court noted in the order that the counsel for the plaintiff was ready to supply the copy in the court today, which is not accepted by the counsel for the BBC stating that the same shall be prejudicial to her rights in view of the Hague Convention.

Further, the copies are supplied to the counsel for Wikimedia but it was submitted by the Counsel that the same is also not as per law as per the Hague Convention, the judge noted in the order passed on Thursday.

The petitioner has moved a plea through social media lawyer advocate Mukesh Sharma. The petitioner Binay Kumar Singh has prayed the court to pass an order restraining the Defendants restraining them including their agents, etc. to cease the publishing of two-volume documentary series "India: The Modi Question" or any other defamatory material pertaining to the Plaintiff,Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) on the platforms of Wikimedia and Internet Archive or any other online or offline platforms. He has also sought to pass a direction to the Defendants ordering them to tender an unconditional apology to the Plaintiff as well as to RSS and VHP for the libellous and defamatory content published in the two-volume documentary series.

The petitioner has also sought damages of Rs 10 lakh from the defendants for alleged defamation caused by the documentary because he is also associated with RSS, VHP and BJP. (ANI)

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