Vantage point

Thursday, June 23, 2011

IIPM and Caravan Magazine

As is usually the case, whenever something noteworthy related to IIPM happens, I get a surge of emails, IMs and tweets from people asking about it. So yesterday when Caravan made it public that they had been sued by IIPM, I saw the incoming communication surge. Rather than individually answer everyone who asked my opinion on it, I thought of making this post, summarizing it.

Firstly, I have been aware of IIPM serving Caravan a legal notice for a couple of weeks now. The Director of Delhi Press and Managing Editor of Caravan, Anant Nath is a friend (we were in the same batch at IIM Lucknow). He told me about the lawsuit and his intention to fight it. Anant is a great guy, with outstanding vision that has made Caravan one of the best magazines in India in recent years. He also has a great sense of morality, personal conviction, and courage, which is why I am happy but not surprised by his decision to take on IIPM.

As for the lawsuit itself, it is a painful reminder of how someone can manipulate the legal system in India. Just like JAM magazine, Caravan has been sued in a court in remote Silchar, although neither or JAM, Caravan, or IIPM are based in Silchar. In both cases, the court in Silchar ordered an "ex-parte injuction" asking both magazines to take down the posts without ever hearing from them. And the court has asked the magazines to keep the posts down until the case has decided. Apparently, the legal system in India allows for this.

However you can still access both articles, not on the magazine sites, but on private blogs. Here is the JAM article and here is the Caravan article.

Will IIPM manage to win the cases against JAM and Caravan? Based on what lawyer friends tell me, unlikely. The Indian libel laws give a decent amount of leeway under freedom of speech, and the plaintiff has quite a challenge in proving libel.

But it is my guess/opinion that IIPM is not interested in actually "winning" these cases. Now that the court injunctions have taken the articles offline, their purpose is served. As we know, court cases in India can drag on for years, and as long as the cases drag on, the injunction will forbid the two brave magazines to publish the articles.

Well, what can I say? My opinions about IIPM are well known. I can only extend my full support and any help possible to my friends at Caravan (and JAM). I hope they can somehow manage to get the cases thrown out or decided in their favor soon.