The academic integrity of Punjabi University has come under the cloud as a Delhi publisher has filed a Rs 20-lakh lawsuit against it for plagiarism.
Hindi publisher Rajkamal Prakashan Ltd has accused the varsity of reproducing its Hindi book in Punjabi. The original was authored by noted writer Sabyasachi Bhattacharya.
A civil judge of Delhi’s Tis Hazari court, Gurvinder Pal Singh, has restrained the university from reprinting and selling its ‘infringed’ publication till the settlement of the issue through an interim order on August 20. The next hearing is listed for September 19.
The publisher stated that it published a Hindi book, “Aadhunik Bharat Ka Aarthik Itihaas”, after buying its exclusive rights in 1988 from the author and currently book’s seventh edition was in the market.
“In June we came to know that university’s publication bureau had printed a Punjabi book under the same title in 2012, which was nothing but a translation of our Hindi book,” stated the publisher in the petition.
It further stated that except for first two chapters, the varsity’s book was translated from our book, a fact confirmed by acclaimed Hindi-Punjabi translator Subhash Neerav, when both the books were sent to him to get his opinion on the similarity of the content.
Managing director of the publishing house Ashok Maheshwari told HT that the name of the author of Punjabi University’s book is SD Gajrani, who had retired as a professor of history and died in January this year.
“Before filing the lawsuit, we checked from Bhattacharya whether he gave any permission to Punjabi University to translate and publish the book, but he was unaware of the issue,” said Maheshwari.
He said the varsity had been selling the book for four years in violation of the Copyright Act.
“Even if the commissioned writer was at fault, the varsity was equally responsible not vetting the book before sending it for publication,” he said.
Besides financial damage, the publisher has also sought profit in the sale of the varsity’s publication and give up its right to the book.
The court observed that the publisher was able to make out a strong prima-facie case and the temporary injunction was granted to save the publisher from the irreparable loss to its goodwill and reputation.
Besides ban on sale and reprint, the varsity has also been ordered not to sign any agreement with regard to copyright of the book with any other person by the court.