Ecole Mondiale staffer arrested for defaming ex-Bombay HC judge
Posted On Thursday, April 15, 2010 at 04:44:03 AM
|A senior employee of Ecole Mondiale World School has been arrested for allegedly posting defamatory information on the Internet about his former employers, the Global Indian Foundation (GIF) of which former Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court Chadrashekhar Dharmadhikari is a governor.
Fifty-one-year-old Nandakumar Venkataraman, currently on deputation as CEO-designate of Ecole Mondiale International School, Chennai, was picked up by the Thane Cyber Crime Cell for hosting an allegedly libellous blog about the GIF’s board of governors.
Venkataraman was associated with GIF’s Global Indian International School in Singapore between 2004 and 2007, when he was asked to quit after the management discovered alleged financial irregularities in the school’s accounts. “Apart from that, the school also found that he had leaked some confidential information,” Additional Police Commissioner (Crime), Prashant Burde of Thane Police, told Mumbai Mirror.
Months after leaving the Singapore school, Venkataraman allegedly co-started a ‘fake’ blog that supposedly represented parents of children studying at GIIS. Called Global Indian International School Parents Forum For A Better GIIS, this blog carried defamatory information about GIF and some of its governors, which include Dharmadhikari, scientist MGK Menon, and former Indian cricketer Chandu Borde.
One of the posts about Justice Dharmadhikari blames him for the institution’s “lack of moral leadership”. Because GIF Vice President (CS Dharmadhikari) has abdicated his responsibility, failing to respond to the pleas of the parents raised in our open letter. Dharmadhikari’s ‘slip’ has clearly revealed to us, where the loyalties of this ex-’Justice’ really belong: far from the side of Justice, but closely tied to his kith, kin and clan.”
When contacted, Dharmadhikari said: “There is substance in the complaint of defamation lodged by GIIS. Although I have not read the blog on a computer, I was shown hard copies of the posts which Venkataraman had posted.”
GIIS also alleged that some of the school’s confidential financial documents, in his possession during his tenure, were also put up on the site.
A complaint of defamation was first lodged with the Thane Police against unknown persons back in June 2008, and it took almost two years for the cops to track down Nandakumar. “Initial inquiries into the matter revealed that the blogs were posted from Singapore. Therefore, the School Authorities decided to take up the matter with police there,” Burde said.
GIIS, which has 11 branches abroad and nine in India, also lodged a complaint in Singapore. In April 2009, investigations revealed that a local parent, Ajith Narayanan, was co-moderator of the site. Till then, the police did not have an idea of Nandakumar’s alleged involvement. His name finally came up when Ajith Narayanan gave an affidavit accepting he was a co-moderator and making several references to Nandakumar in his statement.
The Thane police then chased blog-hosts Google to provide details of blog’s Indian moderator. “It took time to collect the technical details. Only last month, we were informed that the blogs were now being posted from Chennai. A team of Thane police visited Nandakumar’s house in Chennai and seized two laptops and his mobile phone, from which the blog posts were made. “The seized articles are been sent for forensic examination and we are sure that they contain material that exists on the blogs,” said API Usha Suryavanshi.
Venkataraman, who has been booked under sections 66(a) and 66(d) of the Information Technology Act, has denied involvement in the blog in his statement to the police.
Advocate Sanjog Parab, legal spokesperson of GIIS, confirmed the development saying: “We had referred the matter to the Cyber Cell and the school is co-operating with the police.”