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Delhi High Court Issues Summons to Wikipedia in Defamation Suit by ANI

Delhi High Court Issues Summons to Wikipedia in ANI Defamation Case

On Tuesday, the Delhi High Court issued summons to Wikipedia in response to a defamation suit filed by news agency ANI. ANI has alleged that its profile page on the platform contains defamatory content and that Wikipedia is not allowing edits to correct it.

Justice Navin Chawla issued notice on ANI’s interim relief plea and scheduled the next hearing for August 20.

The Wikipedia page in question claims that ANI has been criticized for serving as a propaganda tool for the incumbent central government, distributing materials from a vast network of fake news websites, and misreporting events. ANI asserts that this description is defamatory and that Wikipedia is selectively allowing edits on its page.

Advocate Sidhant Kumar, representing ANI, argued that Wikipedia has restricted edits on ANI’s page to their representatives only. “They have closed my (ANI’s) page for editing by anyone and can only be edited through their representatives,” he submitted.

In response, the Court noted, “At the end of the day they are entitled to have their opinion whether they have backing of facts or not will be seen.” The Court then proceeded to issue notice to Wikipedia.

ANI has raised objections to the following descriptions on its Wikipedia page:

  • The agency being criticized as a propaganda tool for the central government, distributing materials from fake news websites, and misreporting events.
  • Accusations under new management of practicing an aggressive journalism model focused on revenue, with poor human resource management and mistreatment of ex-employees.
  • Findings from a 2020 EU DisinfoLab investigation that ANI published anti-Pakistan and anti-China content sourced from pro-India fake news websites.
  • Allegations of misreporting events by fact-checkers certified by the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN), including forging video clips.
  • Accusations of falsely blaming Muslims for sexual assault during the 2023 Manipur violence.

ANI contends that these edits are false and misleading. “This malicious conduct of the Defendants ex-facie establishes their ulterior motives of defaming Plaintiff by publishing false and misleading content against Plaintiff,” ANI argued. The agency claims that the actions of the defendants have tarnished its reputation, subjected it to public harassment, and necessitated urgent intervention by the court to rectify the situation.

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