Renowned author Chetan Bhagat is once again in a legal trouble after a scion of the erstwhile princely state of Dumraon in Bihar has slapped a Rupees 1 crore defamation suit for “maliciously” portraying the male members of the royal family as a”alcoholics and gamblers” in his novel Half Girlfriend .
The suit was filed in the Delhi High Court by Chandra Vijay Singh for “express and implied references” to his family in Bhagat’s book that are “false and derogatory in nature”, Hindustan Times reports. The court has issued summons to Bhagat and Rupa Publications to appear before it on May 1, either in person or by a pleader.
Singh, who 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, has also named Rupa Publications, the publisher of Half Girlfriend as a respondent in the defamation suit.
The defamation suit has come days after the royal family had asked Bhagat to change the setting in the Hindi version of Half Girlfriend from the existing place called Dumraon. While Bhagat did change the setting from Dumraon to Simraon, the royal family is saying that they will not accept anything short of a full retraction of the original novel in English and an apology from Bhagat and Rupa Publications.
Singh’s son Shivang Vijay Singh said Bhagat had been given every chance to make amends and to repair the damage caused to his family’s reputation but the author had not taken the family’s concerns seriously, the report says.
“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.
To make his point, Singh cited an excerpt from page 25 of the book wherein the protagonist says: “My ancestors were landlords and from the royal family of Dumraon, the oldest princely state in British India… My great-granduncles squandered their money, especially since they all felt they could gamble better than anyone else in the world. Several near-bankruptcies later, the women of the house took charge as the men had all turned into alcoholics.”
The English version of the book had landed in the controversy after “deliberate and malicious” references to the Dumraon family had prompted the scion to serve a legal notice on Bhagat and the publisher in November last year.
While Bhagat had expressed his regret over the references, the family said it was not enough, resulting in the filing of a defamation suit.