The Delhi High Court has directed website ditchdairy.in to pull down an article that sought to target the Gujarat Cooperative Milk Marketing Federation (GCMMF), which manufactures and distributes well-known dairy brand Amul.
GCMMF had alleged that the article intended to create “bias, fear psychosis and prejudice” in the minds of the public against milk and milk products. Titled ‘White Lie of Amul and Black Truth of Animal Milk’, the article had also tweaked Amul’s popular tagline ‘The Taste of India’ to ‘The Waste of India’.
The order was pronounced by Justice V. Kameswar Rao on 17 December and made available on the high court’s website Tuesday.
The judge also restrained the website from publishing similar or identical articles, while ordering removal of the write-up from its Facebook page called ‘Boycott milk’.
While there was nobody to represent ditchdairy.in or its promoter, Chetan Pandilya, a counsel for Facebook said the intermediary would pull the article down only on the court’s direction.
“The issue raised is of great public importance for an entity which has been in existence for the last so many years,” noted the court’s order, granting a week’s time to pull down the article.
The court also issued summons to Pandilya on GCMMF’s petition and fixed a hearing on 6 April 2021.
‘False narrative against Amul’
Appearing for GCMMF, Additional Solicitor General Chetan Sharma asserted his client’s proprietorship over trademark ‘Amul’ and its variant marks.
He argued that ditchdiary.in and its Facebook page was a propaganda against the dairy industry, and promoted a false narrative that GCMMF as well as its members inflicted cruelty on animals.
Sharma also debunked the theory propagated in the article that dairy products caused several fatal diseases such as cancer.
Pandilya, Sharma informed the court, was a promoter of plant-based products, which he sells under different brands. Pandilya, therefore, has chosen to publish highly “biased and defamatory articles against milk products” to lower the esteem of Amul products, claimed Sharma.
He also said that the “libellous and degrading conduct” of the defendant was causing grave injury to GCMMF’s hard-earned goodwill and reputation.
‘Amul’s milk-based products are rich in nutrient’
GCMMF is the ninth largest processor of milk in the world and was associated with the tagline ‘The Taste of India’ since 1994, the high court was told.
Sharma also rubbished claims made in the article that plant-based beverages were healthier in comparison to milk and milk products. He said milk was naturally more nutrient-rich in comparison to plant-based beverages.
Apart from the benefits, Sharma also highlighted the numerous regulations that exist to safeguard the quality of milk. GCMMF, Sharma argued, was extremely affected by defamatory articles because it covers around 80 per cent of the market with respect to milk and milk products.
He said Pandilya has been making “libellous and denigrating comments” against GCMMF’s managing director, and such remarks have caused grave injury to the “highly-earned” goodwill and reputation of the society and its officers.
Not the first case by GCMMF
This is the third case in which GCMMF has approached the Delhi High Court against “defamatory” online content against the dairy industry.
In the first week of December, GCMMF had sought relief against one Nitin Jain, proprietor of Bengaluru Brigade for Animals Liberation, who uploaded a video titled ‘Unholy Cattle of India: Exposing Cruelty in the Indian Dairy Industry’.
Although the high court did not injunct telecast of the video, it sought an explanation from Jain to support his allegation that Amul treated cows cruelly and to also disclose whether he has made any profit out of the clip. This matter will next be taken up on 21 April 2021.
In a similar case in October, the high court had issued notices to one Harsh Saraf and Google India, after GCMMF alleged that a video uploaded by Saraf on various social media platforms had levelled unsubstantiated allegations against the cooperative federation. Saraf had, however, promised to remove references to Amul and its products from the video. The high court is expected to hear this petition in January.