Delhi HC declines to entertain plea against Salman Khurshid’s new book
Last week, the court rejected another petition to stop circulation, sale, purchase and publication of the book
The Delhi High Court on Tuesday declined to entertain a plea seeking a direction to the Central and Delhi governments to ban the sale and publication of Congress leader Salman Khurshid’s latest book Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood In Our Times, in which he allegedly compared ‘Hindutva’ with the jihadist Islam of terrorist groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram.
Last week, the court rejected another petition to stop the circulation, sale, purchase and publication of the book.
On Tuesday, a Bench of Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh came down on the petitioner for not making the author of the book or publication house as a party to the plea.
“You want complete ban on the book but you have not made the author a party. We may dismiss it with costs. We will not give you any chance, this is a deliberate move. These are all chance taking petitioners. It is for publicity,” the Bench remarked.
“He has no courage to join Salman Khurshid as a party, what type of PIL [public interest litigation] he will argue. If you are feeling so shy about making a senior advocate [Mr. Khurshid) as a party in your case, don’t file a PIL. These are blackmailing or publicity petitions,” it observed.
Withdrawal of plea
Sensing the mood of the bench, petitioner Rakesh sought the court’s permission to withdraw his plea and file a fresh one properly. The court allowed him to withdraw the petition.
Mr. Rakesh said in his plea that Mr. Khurshid’s statement in his book could hurt Hindus in the country and that it could become a law and order problem in society.
The controversial paragraph in the book reads - “Sanatan dharma and classical Hinduism known to sages and saints was being pushed aside by a robust version of Hindutva, by all standards a political version similar to jihadist Islam of groups liks ISIS and Boko Haram of recent years”.
Last week, Justice Yashwant Varma, while rejecting the petition seeking a ban on the book, observed “the freedoms guaranteed by Article 19 [of the Constitution] are not liable to be freely expressed only if they fall in line with a majoritarian view”.
He stated, “The right to dissent or to have and express a contrarian view with respect to current affairs or historical events are the essence of a vibrant democracy. Fundamental and precious right guaranteed by our Constitution can neither be restricted nor denied merely on the perceived apprehension of the view being unpalatable or disagreeable to some. The freedom to freely express ideas and opinions cannot be permitted to be overshadowed by the ominous cloud of being non-conformist.”