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ANI files defamation suit against Wikipedia, seeks Rs 2 cr in damages

The ANI Media Private Limited (Asian News International) has filed a defamation suit against Wikipedia, a free, open-content online encyclopedia, before the Delhi High Court for alleged defamatory content against the news agency.

Wikipedia’s article on ANI says it “has been criticized for having served as a propaganda tool for the incumbent central government, distributing materials from a vast network of fake news websites, and misreporting events.”

The news agency has taken issue with the allegedly defamatory content on its Wikipedia page and is seeking both interim relief and Rs 2 crore in monetary damages, reported Deccan Herald.

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In the defamation lawsuit, ANI (Asian News International) accused the Wikimedia Foundation of publishing false and defamatory content about the news agency with the malicious intent of damaging its reputation and goodwill.

Advocate Sidhanth Kumar, appearing on behalf of ANI, argued that the content mentioned on ANI’s Wikipedia page is defamatory. Kumar contended that Wikipedia, which functions as an intermediary platform, is now being used as a public utility and cannot behave like a private actor.

He stated that Wikipedia has closed ANI’s page for editing by the news agency, except for Wikipedia’s editors.

Wikipedia entitled to opinions: Delhi HC Judge

In response, Justice Chawla of the Delhi High Court made an oral remark that Wikipedia is entitled to have its own opinions.

The judge stated that Wikipedia would have to explain its actions before the court. Justice Chawla characterized this as a “pure case of defamation”.

The Delhi High Court has now issued a summons to Wikipedia, requiring the platform to respond to ANI’s defamation suit. The court will hear Wikipedia’s explanation for the allegedly defamatory content present on ANI’s Wikipedia page.

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