New Delhi: The news that the Department of Telecommunications blocked 78 URLs, most of which were critical of Arindam Chaudhuri and IIPM, due to a case filed by Chaudhuri has swept the Internet over the past few days.
Chaudhuri has faced flak for using the IT Act, a section that has already come under severe criticism for its arbitrary and draconian nature, to effectively censor what some claim is only legitimate criticism.
However, Chaudhuri hit back at his detractors today, saying that this was just the second stage in a case filed months ago.
Speaking in an interview to a TV news channel, NewsX, Chaudhuri denied that he was sensitive to criticism, saying that anyone was free to draw cartoons of him or to criticize his dress sense.
However, he said that no one had the right to put up defamatory or untrue content about him and his Indian Institute of Planning and Management (IIPM). He stated that the court's block order was against such content, and people were free to petition the court in Gwalior if they felt that they were wrongly targeted.
The IT Act, under which Chaudhuri has gotten his block, has no provision for such a petition. Blocked parties cannot file petitions to revoke the ban and cannot bring back web pages that have been blocked - a fact pointed out by the Act's critics.
Regarding the blocking of a Government web page, the UGC one which clarified that IIPM was not a university, Chaudhuri said that neither he nor IIPM had ever claimed to be a university and that the IIPM was just an institute.
Chaudhuri said that there were thousands of such institutes in India, but the UGC had only issued clarifications against his institute.
He said that he suspected all of this was the work of his "competitors".
Mr. Chaudhuri, who has a broad definition of term defamatory, also defended a similar court-ordered block (this time from a court in Assam) against the author Siddhartha Deb.
Deb had given an excerpt of his book as an article to the magazine Caravan, in which Deb criticized the workings of the IIPM and questioned whether students who graduated from the institute were able to find jobs.
Speaking in a panel at the TV news channel CNN IBN, Chaudhuri said that Deb was free to publish his book, if he removed ' defamatory' passages from it.
"If my business gets affected then I am willing to go to court," Chaudhuri said.
The entire process has only bought the IT Act under further scrutiny and, far from removing attention from the whatever content the articles contained, has only greatly increased the negative attention IIPM receives.