Delhi High Court dismisses plea against the Dalai Lama over kissing video row

The High Court said the PIL could not be entertained and the incident was ‘not premeditated’, and the spiritual leader had already apologised to those who may have been hurt by the incident

Updated - July 09, 2024 07:31 pm IST

Published - July 09, 2024 07:30 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. File

Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. File | Photo Credit: Reuters

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed a petition to take action against the Dalai Lama, over a video clip which went viral in April 2023, where he was seen kissing a boy on the lips and asking him to “suck his tongue”, saying the Tibetan spiritual leader was being “playful and trying to humour the child”.

A Bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Tushar Rao Gedela also took note of the fact that the Dalai Lama had already apologised to those who may have been hurt by the incident.

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The public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the ‘Confederation of NGOs’ stated that the startling video went viral across media channels on various social media platforms in April 2023 without hiding the identity of the eight-year-old minor boy, and discussions and debates were organised by many news channels, which would have a grave impact on the well-being of a child.

The petitioners urged the High Court to pass directions to the authorities to take cognisance of the alleged incident under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and also ensure that the identity of the child was retracted from news portals.

The High Court, however, said the PIL could not be entertained and the incident was “not premeditated”.

“The court has seen the video and finds that it happened in full public glare. The court finds it was the minor who expressed his desire and intent to meet and hug Respondent no. 4 [the Dalai Lama],” the High Court said.

“If the video is seen in overall perspective, it can be seen that Respondent no. 4 was being playful and trying to humour the child. It is to be seen in the context of Tibetan culture. The fact that he is the head of a religious sect, which is not on the best terms with a foreign power, is also to be borne in mind while dealing with such petitions,” the court added.

“The court finds that the Respondent no. 4 has already expressed an apology to those who may have been hurt,” the Bench Court said.

The counsel for the petitioner argued that while she was not trying to “bring the Holiness under the scanner”, the authorities should have issued a statement after taking note of the incident.

The NGO said the plea was filed with the intent to be a wake-up call on the “deafening silence” of the concerned authorities and other stakeholders, including media, on crimes committed against gullible little children by “revered godmen, spiritual sacrosancts, religious heads, priests, popes, maulvis, sadhgurus, spiritual leaders, gurus or monks and the likes”.

The plea also sought direction to undertake comprehensive and mandatory periodic audits of all religious places and all religion-based institutions or spiritual retreats where children reside and attain spiritual and/or religious or academic knowledge and insights.

The High Court said the government would examine the issue and there was “nothing of public interest” in the matter.

“There are gurus who kick people. We have seen that also. We can’t get into all this. Next, someone will say they got a bad handshake. Give it a quietus. This is not a case to carry on like this,” the High Court said while dismissing the plea.

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