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A Delhi court on Wednesday issued summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), Wikimedia Foundation, and the US-based digital library Internet Archive on a defamation suit filed by BJP leader Binay Kumar Singh seeking to restrain them from publishing the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi or any other material related to Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) and Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP).
Additional District Judge of Rohini Courts Ruchika Singla issued summons and listed the matter for further consideration on May 11.
"Issue summons of the suit for settlement of issues to the defendant on filing of PF and e-mode returnable on next date of hearing. PF be filed today itself. The defendant is directed to file his written statement within 30 days from the date of service of the summons. Endorsement be made on the summons accordingly," the court said in its order.
Singh. who claims to be the state executive committee member of the Jharkhand BJP and an active volunteer of the RSS and VHP, moved the suit through advocate Mukesh Sharma stating that the claims in the documentary against the RSS and Vishwa Hindu Parishad are made with the intention of defaming the organisations and its volunteers.
"The allegations made against the RSS and VHP are motivated by a malicious intent to defame the organisations and its millions of members/volunteers. Such unfounded allegations are not only baseless but also have the potential to damage the reputation and image of the RSS, VHP and its millions of members/volunteers, who have committed themselves to upholding the cultural, social and national values of India," the suit stated.
The court ordered: "The defendant is directed to file his written statement within 30 days from the date of service of the summons. Endorsement be made on the summons accordingly."
The two-volume documentary series that has already been banned is nevertheless easily accessible in the public domain on Wikimedia and the Internet Archive, Singh has argued.
"The Defendant No.1 (BBC), strategically and purposefully disseminated unfounded rumours without verifying the authenticity of the claims. Furthermore, the accusations made therein foster animosity between multiple faith communities, in particular Hindus and Muslims," the suit said.
Singh has also sought an order of unconditional apology by the defendants, to him, the RSS, and the Vishwa Hindu Parishad for the allegedly "libellous and defamatory content" that was included in the two-volume documentary series.
The suit states: "The Plaintiff has worked assiduously over decades to build his career and reputation, and if this matter is left unchecked, it will permanently demolish the Plaintiffs hard-earned reputation and career. Therefore, even though the Plaintiff is a champion of free speech, he is compelled to seek an immediate injunction to safeguard his reputation and livelihood."