Chetan Bhagat, “the voice of Indian youth”, has been slapped with Rs 1 crore defamation suit by the scion of the erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihar.
The suit was filed in the Delhi high court by Chandra Vijay Singh for “express and implied references” to his family in Bhagat’s latest book Half Girlfriend that are “false and derogatory in nature”, reports Hindustan Times.
Singh, the eldest son of Maharaja Bahadur Kamal Singh, a two-term Lok Sabha MP and the last ruler of Dumraon, claims that the novel defames his family by suggesting that the men of the family gamble excessively and are alcoholics.
Bhagat denies any reference to the family of erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihara and claims that there was some “misunderstanding” as his book is a work of fiction.
“Somebody in Bihar feels they belong to the family, which is fictionally represented in the book. But it is fiction. So the question of defamation does not arise and I don’t know these people. I don’t even know they existed,” said Bahgat in a statement.
Rupa publications, the publisher of the book has also been named as a respondent in the defamation suit.
Singh’s son Shivang Vijay Singh said that even after sending a legal notice in November and then in December last year to both Bhagat and Rupa Publications, no definite action had been taken by them.
Singh also added that although Bhagat expressed regret and extended friendship to the family at one point in November, he later mocked them on Twitter.
But in a statement on Thursday Bhagat said, “Once they said they were not happy I said, ‘let’s be friends and let’s have a friendly chat’. That I will say to anyone. If I don’t know someone exists, how will I defame them? It is a misunderstanding. They have asked us to respond to them so we will respond.”
“I also understand that the word ‘Dumraon’ has been changed to ‘Sunraon’ or some such name in the Hindi translation of Half Girlfriend. This is a tacit admission and we were right all along,” Vijay told Hindustan Times late on Tuesday.
After receiving a “vague” reply from Bhagat, Singh finally filed for defamation. He demands references to “the royal Family of Dumraon” to be expunged and the recall of all copies of the book in its present form.
“The court will decide. It is almost a compliment if people feel my story in ‘Half Girlfriend’ is real, it is not. I am shocked that people feel that way,” Bhagat said in reply.
Half Girlfriend, released in October last year, has received mediocre reviews with DNA calling it ‘old wine in new bottle’ and Business Standard, ‘half inane, half caricature’.