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SC orders IIPM 'bogus litigation' vs Caravan transferred from Silchar to Delhi HC

Consider Silchar, only 2,200 km from Delhi, perfect for weekend getaways and Rs 50 cr litigations
Consider Silchar, only 2,200 km from Delhi, perfect for weekend getaways and Rs 50 cr litigations

A Supreme Court bench of justices Madan Lokur and RK Agrawal has transferred to the Delhi high court the four-year old Rs 50 crore defamation suit by the Delhi-based Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM) that was filed in Silchar, Assam, which had in 2011 passed an injunction against the Delhi-based publisher of The Caravan magazine for a hard-hitting profile of its founder Arindam Chaudhuri.

Mitter & Mitter & Co partner Amit Gupta represented Caravan and its publisher Delhi Press Patra Prakashan, while advocate Arunabh Chaudhury acted for IIPM.

Gupta said:

Yesterday, during the hearing the bench made repeated queries regarding the activities of IIPM, such as - (a) whether it is still functioning? (b) If yes, what degree/diploma is it awarding? (c) whether it has any UGC recognition? (d) when the counsel for IIPM said that they are providing certificate course, the bench asked what is the validity of a certificate?

After hearing the arguments, the judges asked the counsel for the IIPM to withdraw the suit, since they felt that the suit lacked any merits. The Bench asked the counsel for the IIPM take instructions from his clients regarding this and passed over the matter.

When the matter was taken up after the passover, the counsel for the IIPM informed that he does not have instructions to withdraw the suit as of now.

The bench, thereafter, passed an order transferring the suit to Delhi high court.

Even after the order was passed, Justice Lokur observed that IIPM is indulging in bogus litigation.

After the suit was filed in a local Silchar court, the Caravan filed transfer petition 837 / 2011 in Daily Press v Kishorendu Gupta & IIPM in the Supreme Court, it had been subject to several adjournments by IIPM.

Kishorendu Gupta was the local Assam resident and first plaintiff through whom the original defamation suit was filed but he had since passed away. In November 2014 Caravan moved to delete his name from the list of parties.

Calls to the three phone numbers listed on IIPM’s website’s ‘contact us’ section and the three different numbers on its Facebook page did not connect when dialled by Legally India at the time of publication. Legally India could not find an email address or other contact details on IIPM’s website to reach out to the institute for comment. We have reached out to IIPM dean Arindam Chaudhuri via email on his personal website.

IIPM’s advocate Arunabh Chaudhury was not reachable by phone at the time of going to press.

IIPM: Not a stranger to Delhi high court

In September 2014, the Delhi high court had restrained IIPM from claiming that it offered Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) programmes and fined it with Rs 25,000 to be paid to the Delhi legal services authority.

The judgment by Rajiv Sahai Endlaw ordered:

(B) The respondent No.4 IIPM and its management / officialsincluding its Dean Mr. Arindam Chaudhuri are directed to prominently display on the website of IIPM that they are not recognized by any statutory body / authority and the status of the Foreign University / Institution and/or its Degree or Certificate in the country of its origin and whose Degree or certificate the students enrolling in the Course / Programme offered by the respondent No.4IIPM would be entitled to;

(C) The respondent No.4 IIPM and its management / officials including its Dean Mr. Arindam Chaudhuri to within one week hereof, upload and display prominently on the website of the respondent No.4 IIPM this judgment to ensure that attention of anyone visiting the said website is drawn thereto (we clarify that the short time of one week is given since this is admission time, when students not admitted to Institutes / Colleges of their first choice,would be queuing for other Institutes) [emphasis added]

The very bottom of IIPM’s website includes a small link entitled “Order (HC)”, which links to a 51.6MB PDF of the 20-page judgment that Legally India was not able to download at the time of publication because it took longer than 15 minutes for 10MB to download from IIPM’s server.

A Google Cache version of IIPM’s PDF is available here, while the PDF version on the Delhi high court’s website comes in at a file size of 207KB and downloaded nearly instantaenously (see image).

Highlighted: Downloads of judgment from IIPM website (top) and from Delhi high court website (bottom)
Highlighted: Downloads of judgment from IIPM website (top) and from Delhi high court website (bottom)

Even further down the page, underneath the copyright notice, IIPM’s website states in dark-grey font on a grey-background (see screenshot below):

Disclaimer : There is only one official site of IIPM and that is this site iipm.edu. We are also aware that there are sites which give wrong info on IIPM Readers may note that these sites do not belong to IIPM and mislead students. We are not responsible for these sites or any such sites which crop up in future. IIPM will regularly try to track such sites and ask them to take info on IIPM off those sites however Internet is a medium where all kinds of false information is floated by others including our competitors to mislead students. Please do not be mislead by any such sites. IIPM is a private autonomous body that imparts entrepreneurial and economic planning education and doesn’t provide MBA / BBA degrees which only universities can provide. IIPM has never claimed to be an university nor claimed to give MBA /BBA degrees.

IIPM requests everyone to see this video by the Honorary Director of IIPM Think Tank, Prof Arindam Chaudhuri

The Hon’ble High court of Delhi observed that IIPM had published certain admission notifications on its website, in spite of the consent order that it wouldn’t do so. We wish to state it is based on purely the content produced by the petitioner, of some other website and Hon’ble court had asked us to post an apology to that effect. We wish to inform public at large again that the official website of IIPM is www.iipm.edu. Only pages connect to www.iipm.edu should be considered our official information. However, we still apologize if anyone came under the impression that IIPM offers MBA/BBA during the period of our consent to the court. Further, we can assure that none of our existing students admitted during the period of consent had any such confusion that they will get MBA/BBA degree from IIPM

Screenshot of IIPM website footer

Screenshot of bottom of IIPM website (emphasis added)
Screenshot of bottom of IIPM website (emphasis added)

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