Half Girlfriend: Chetan Bhagat settles defamation case with Bihar royals, says sorry

Hindustan Times, Patna | By
Jun 01, 2017 09:26 PM IST

Chandra Vijay Singh slapped the defamation suit against Chetan Bhagat claiming the male members of the family were maliciously portrayed as alcoholics and gamblers in Half Girlfriend.

Chetan Bhagat and the erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihar, which slapped a Rs 1 crore defamation suit against the best-selling author, have reached an out-of-court settlement after he tendered an unconditional apology for “unintended confusion and misunderstanding” over the “fictional” references to the royal family in his book Half Girlfriend.

Author Chetan Bhagat settled the defamation suit for slur in 'Half Girlfriend' .(File photo)
Author Chetan Bhagat settled the defamation suit for slur in 'Half Girlfriend' .(File photo)

Chandra Vijay Singh slapped the defamation suit in 2016 claiming the male members of the family were maliciously portrayed as alcoholics and gamblers in Half Girlfriend. He cited “express and implied references” to his family in Bhagat’s book, first published in 2014, that, he said, were “false and derogatory in nature”.

Singh is the eldest son of Maharaja Bahadur Kamal Singh, a two-term Lok Sabha MP and the last ruler of Dumraon before its accession to the Indian union in 1952.

Gaurav Ghosh, the counsel for Singh, confirmed the terms of the out-of-court settlement reached between Bhagat and Rupa Publishers and Singh. Shyam Moorjani, the lawyer who represented Bhagat and Rupa, declined to comment on the case.

The text of the apology was presented as a statement by Moorjani and approved by the additional district judge (central) at New Delhi’s Tis Hazari courts, Harish Kumar. It was approved by the court that said the suit stood disposed of. The text of the court’s order was put up on its website on Wednesday.

“I clarify that the lead character (in Half Girlfriend) Madhav Jha is stated to be a direct descendant of the royal family of Dumraon, which is not true. It has been passingly mentioned that the ancestors of the lead character were involved in gambling and alcoholism, leading to bankruptcy due to which the women of the family took charge of the affairs and managed the family,” Bhagat said in his apology.

“I clarify that the aforesaid depiction of the royal family of Dumraon was completely based on fiction … I apologize to anyone if hurt by the said fictional representation of the assumed royal family in the novel,” he added.

Under the terms of the out of court settlement, Bhagat will publish his apology in a national newspaper and 2 local newspapers, including a Hindi newspaper that is in circulation in Dumraon, about 114km west of state capital, Patna.

The clarification has to be published by June 15.

A separate text of clarification has been approved for publication in the subsequent publication of copies of Half Girlfriend, reiterating the characters in the book were purely fictional and testifying to the good name and reputation of the Dumraon royal family.

Chandra Vijay Singh’s son, Shivang Vijay Singh, expressed his family’s satisfaction with the outcome of the case.

“We just wanted the fair name of the Dumraon royal family to remain unsullied. We have achieved that,” he told the Hindustan Times.

The erstwhile princely state of Dumraon, located 100km west of state capital Patna, was founded by a branch of Ujjainia rulers and the reign of the first king, Raja Bhoj Singh, is traced back to 1018.

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    Rai Atul Krishna has been writing, editing and anchoring news reports and features for Hindustan Times on a wide variety of subjects for the past 30 years. He has also mentored many of his colleagues during this period.

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