[BREAKING] "What can we do if people are so sensitive?": Delhi High Court says, junking plea vs contents in Salman Khurshid's book "Sunrise Over Ayodhya", comparing Hindutva with Boko Haram, ISIS

  • Shreya Agarwal
  • 01:01 PM, 25 Nov 2021

Junking a plea filed in the Delhi High Court seeking directions to stop the publication, circulation, and sale of former Union Minister Salman Khurshid’s book, "Sunrise over Ayodhya: Nationhood in our times" for its remarks comparing Hindutva to ISIS and Boko Haram, the Delhi High Court today said, "What can we do if people are so sensitive?" 

While the petitioner's counsel vehemently raised objections to the specific contents of the book comparing Hindutva to the two terrorist organizations, the Court was not satisfied with the counsel's arguments.

The Single judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma asked the Counsel, Adv. Raj Kishor Chaudhury, which specific articles of the Constitution were being violated by the said contents of the book, on which Chaudhary argued that Art. 19(2) which provides for reasonable restrictions to be placed by the government on free speech has been violated due to the government's failure to regulate the publication of such contents. 

He further pointed out that the contents carry the potential to incite the masses and therefore threaten public order, with instances of the same being seen in Nainital. However, the bench was not convinced, and instead told the petitioner, "We are in Delhi." 

Justice Varma further went on, "We are in Delhi. Ask people not to buy the book or read it. Or if people are incited, then let then write their own take. What can we do if people are being so sensitive?"

Filed by Advocate Vineet Jindal through Advocate Raj Kishor Chaudhary, the plea contends that the recently-launched book written by Khurshid wrongly compares Hindutva to radical jihadist groups like ISIS and Boko Haram through a comment in a chapter titled “The Saffron Sky” on Page 113 of the book, which reads as — “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 like ISIS and Boko Haram of recent years."

Further, it stated that the equivalence of Hinduism to ISIS and Boko Haram is perceived as a negative ideology that Hindus have been following and Hinduism has been portrayed as violent, inhuman, and oppressive.

Urging that the freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) of the Constitution has to be balanced with reasonable restrictions that may be imposed under Article 19(2), the plea stated that "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 comes accompanied with veneration for their demi-god like status, it doesn’t take much for malice to be coated with a toxic communal hue based on the contents of the book," the plea stated.

Earlier, in a complaint to the Delhi Police, Jindal had demanded an FIR against Khurshid in the matter under Sections 153,153A ,298 and 505 (2) of the Indian Penal Code.

Cause Title: Vineet Jindal vs Union of India & Ors.