Delhi HC dismisses plea to stop publication, sale of Salman Khurshid's book

Salman Khurshid
Salman Khurshid and his book 'Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood In Our Times'.

New Delhi: Asking what it could do if people were "feeling so sensitive", the Delhi High Court Thursday dismissed a petition to stop the publication, circulation, and sale of Congress leader Salman Khurshid's book 'Sunrise Over Ayodhya: Nationhood In Our Times'.

Justice Yashwant Varma, who was hearing a plea which claimed the book by the former Union minister impinges upon the faith of others, told the petitioner Vineet Jindal-- to ask people to not read the book instead.

Counsel for the petitioner contended that the book, in its chapter called 'The Saffron Sky', compared Hindutva to radical groups like ISIS and Boko Haram, which could harm public peace.

Ask people not to buy the book or read it. Tell people it is badly authored, (tell them to) read something better. People who are incensed should write their own chapter, responded the judge who noted that the entire book was not before the court.

Claiming that it was the duty of all persons to maintain peace, the lawyer added that the author was a public figure and there has already been an incident of violence concerning the book.

Not impressed with the submission, the judge remarked What can we do if people are feeling so sensitive? They can shut their eyes. Nobody has asked them to read it.

During the hearing, the lawyer submitted that freedom of speech was unfettered and that the government should see before giving licence for the publication.

The court dismissed the submission saying the government has not given any licence and a publisher does not need a license.

The lawyer claimed that every communal riot has come backing and argued that the objectionable parts should be removed from the book before its circulation.

The petitioner a lawyer had claimed that certain excerpts from the book were agitating the Hindu community while threatening the security, peace, and harmony of the nation.

So, in a country like India, which is perpetually on a communal tinderbox, where religious sentiments run deep, where respect for certain public and historical figures always come accompanied with veneration for their demi-god status, it doesn't take much for malice to be coated with a toxic communal hue based on the contents of the book, the petition stated.

On November 17, an additional civil judge here had refused to grant an ex-parte injunction on a lawsuit by Hindu Sena president Vishnu Gupta to stop the publication, circulation, and sale of the book for allegedly hurting sentiments of a large section of society.

While declining interim relief, the trial court had said the author and publisher had the right to write and publish the book.

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