A comment at the Phoenix Preacher blog tipped me off to the following story.
In December 2012, Gospel for Asia CEO, K.P. Yohannan, wrote an article trumpeting what Yohannan said was a positive verdict in a lawsuit filed in the Delhi High Court.* Here is how Yohannan described the case and circumstances leading up to it.
A Verdict that Vindicated
Although we never discussed this publicly until now, I have wondered if some of our friends like you might have become confused by this negative media. But what could we do? The Lord knew our hearts, and it would be up to Him to defend us. So we sought Him. We prayed. We fasted. And slowly, step by step the Lord went before us.
At first, we had no idea that all the false information out there was originating from one source or what we could do about it. Gradually, we were able to understand what was happening, and last year, we learned that we could appeal to the government of India and to the High Court in Delhi to look into these cyber attacks on us—which we did. Then, during this last year, various governmental departments investigated Gospel for Asia’s activity in detail to see if any of these accusations were true.
I am grateful to the Lord that what was meant for evil, God used for good. After studying us, these departments determined that we were one of the most upright groups in the country, truly improving the nation. The High Court thus issued a verdict, directing networking sites to remove and stop uploading any false information about Gospel for Asia and our various ministries. In addition, the High Court also had those who posted this misinformation arrested and the material they uploaded removed.
God Came to Our Rescue
I thank God for His grace, mercy and answer to our prayers. He came to our rescue and defended us.
Because you have been with us on this journey, I wanted to let you know what has transpired and give you the opportunity to hear the truth from us, especially if any of this misinformation ever caused doubt in your mind. Below are some links to articles about the verdict from the Indian High Court in Delhi.
That’s Not What the Articles Say
Yohannan’s description makes it appear that the Delhi High Court issued a verdict in 2012 which led to removal of articles from the Internet and the arrest of perpetrators of defamation. However, the articles Yohannan provided contradict his story. Both links lead to stories which describe a lawsuit filed by GFA and Believers’ Church against Google, Facebook and some unnamed other defendants. The first one is dated November 27, 2012 and says:
The Delhi High Court today sought the replies of various social networking sites including Google and Facebook to a plea for removal of “defamatory and derogatory” articles against a church and an NGO from their sites.
Issuing notice to M/s Google India Pvt Ltd, its subsidiaries – You Tube, Blogger, Blogspot.in and also to Facebook, Justice Valmiki Mehta sought their replies by January 7, next year.
The court issued the notice on a joint plea of Gospel for Asia (a city-based NGO) and Believers Church, which alleged that “there are several malicious contents with intent to defame and destroy the reputation of entire organisation (church) including it founder Metropolitan Bishop Dr K P Yohannan and Rev Fr Daniel Varghese, Diocesan Secretary of the church.”
“Certain persons with vested interest are continuously trying to malign the reputation of the organisation by uploading defamatory contents on internet.
“The Google and other intermediaries are liable to restrict these contents as per Section 79 (3)(a) of the Information Technology Act since,” said the complaint filed through counsel Deepak Prakash.
The civil suit also cited the statements of former presidents A P J Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Devi Singh Patil appreciating the work of the organisation and claimed that “different government agencies verified and appreciated the work of the organisation on different occasions and stated that there is no negative remark about them from any corner.”
The plea claimed that the organisation is serving in more than 13 countries with its charity missions reaching lakhs of poor and downtrodden people and improving their standard of living which also means to earn a good life.
“It is carrying out welfare and development activities all over India. It implements projects especially in remote and rural areas and city slums, by its nation building project and providing adequate possibilities to down-trodden and needy to become healthy, productive and functional citizen of this country irrespective of caste, creed and gender,” the plea said.
GFA lauded themselves in their plea to the court, but there was no verdict given in the case. Instead, the judge gave Google, Facebook and others until January, 2013 to answer the suit: “Justice Valmiki Mehta sought their replies by January 7, next year.” According to this article, there was no verdict. The defendants were given a chance to answer, and initially those responses were due after Yohannan wrote his article. The second article provides the same information and nothing about a verdict.
This case was also covered at the time by Christian Today in an article published November 30, 2012. In all three articles, it is very clear that no verdict had been given by the court. In fact, the first action by GFA and BC against Google and Facebook was filed on November 21, 2012 in the Delhi High Court.
The Case is Still Active
The most recent development in the case was filed today. In other words, this case that K.P. Yohannan said was God rescuing GFA with a “verdict that vindicated” has not been settled as of today. The next action in the case is slated for December 7, 2015.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI AT NEW DELHI +
GOSPEL FOR ASIA & OTHERS
….. Plaintiffs Through Mr. Deepak Prakash, Advocate
versus GOOGLE INC & OTHERS
….. Defendant Through Mr. Angad Singh Dugal, Advocate for defendant no.1 Mr. Akhil Anand and Ms. Richa Srivastava, Advocates for defendant no.4
SH. ANIL KUMAR SISODIA (DHJS), JOINT REGISTRAR (JUDICIAL) O R D E R
IA No. 22211/2014
Defendants have not filed reply to the application, except defendant no.4, despite last and final opportunity given on the last date of hearing. In these facts and circumstances, the opportunity to file by other defendants stands closed.
Put up for arguments on the application on 7th December, 2015.
ANIL KUMAR SISODIA (DHJS) JOINT REGISTRAR (JUDICIAL)
JULY 30, 2015 savita
It appears that Google did not file a reply to the plaintiffs. Facebook did file one. I have contacted GFA’s lawyer, Google’s and Facebook’s lawyer and Google’s and Facebook’s press contacts about the case with no answers as yet. UPDATE 7/31 – I reached Angad Singh Dugal, advocate for Google in the case. He confirmed that the case is still active and added that Google has filed a reply in defense.
What is clear is from the court record (you can see everything available on the Delhi High Court website) is that this case has been continued, dragging on for nearly three years, and no verdict has been rendered.
Is K.P. Yohannan unaware of these facts? Or is this story like his denial of followers kissing his ring?
In any case, Yohannan’s faulty narrative about this case provides another reason why GFA should become more transparent and address pastors’ and donors’ questions about cash smuggling, unaccounted for funds, and numerous others concerns.
*High Courts in India appear to be like our federal District Courts. This case was filed in the Delhi High Court.