RSS weekly Organiser ordered to take down article claiming principal of Christian school is exploiting nuns, students: Delhi HC

The Court observed that the reports were published in a reckless manner without any factual verification and were tarnishing the image and reputation of the school principal.

The Delhi High Court, through a recent order, directed that Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) weekly Organiser to take down an article alleging that the principal of a Delhi-based Christian minority school was exploiting nuns and Hindu women and was involved in sexual activities with students, staff members and chefs [XYZ v. Bharat Prakashan (Delhi) Ltd & Ors] An article titled ‘Indian Catholic Church Sex Scandal: Priest exploiting nuns and Hindu women exposed’ was published on Organiser and another news platform named The Commune three months ago in June 2023.

The order that was passed by Justice Jyoti Singh directed both publications to remove the defamatory article from their platforms.

The Court said that prima facie, Organiser and The Commune published the articles “in a reckless manner without any factual verification” and that the news report was tarnishing the image and reputation of the school principal, “who is a respectable citizen of this country and associated with several educational institutions”.

It also observed that the school principal has made out a prima facie case in his favour and that as long as these articles continue to remain in public domain, it is likely to continue causing damage to his reputation.

The school principal had moved court arguing that he has been at senior positions in various schools but has never been involved in any sexual activity as alleged or financial wrongdoing in any manner. He said that the article was published only to harm his reputation and of the missionaries as well as to prejudice his imminent elevation to a hierarchical position.

It was stated that a police complaint has been filed against the two platforms and is pending inquiry.Justice Singh examined the article in question and said that its contents are defamatory on the face of it.

It takes years to build a reputation, and therefore, the right to reputation has been recognized as a fundamental right under Article 21 of the Constitution, the Bench observed.

“No doubt, Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution provides the right of freedom of speech and expression to all persons, however, it cannot be overlooked that the same is subject to restrictions under Article 19(2) which includes defamation. The right to freedom of speech and expression cannot be taken as an unfettered right so as to defame and tarnish the reputation of another person. It has been repeatedly held by Courts that fundamental right to freedom of speech has to be counterbalanced with the right of reputation of an individual.”

The Court, therefore, passed an ex parte ad-interim injunction against the two platforms.

The names of the plaintiff as well as the school he was associated with were not revealed in the order for the sake of anonymity and to preserve their reputation.

Advocates Sumit Bansal, Pankaj Gupta, Udaibir Singh Kochar, Tulna Rampal, Surbhi Tandon and Aditya Bakshi appeared for the school principal.


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