Books

Delhi High Court Restrains Sale and Publication of Book on Ramdev

Justice Anu Malhotra said the right to reputation of a living individual cannot be "crucified" at the "altar of the right to freedom of speech and expression" of another. Juggernaut intends to appeal to the Supreme Court.

New Delhi: The Delhi high court has restrained the sale and publication of a book on yoga guru Ramdev, accepting his claim that it had content which was defamatory.

Justice Anu Malhotra said the right to reputation of a living individual cannot be “crucified” at the “altar of the right to freedom of speech and expression” of another.

The court’s observation came on a petition filed by Ramdev against the book, Godman To Tycoon, saying the book, purportedly on his life, had defamatory content and harmed his economic interests and reputation.

Also read: Interview: The Many, Many Things We Don’t Know About Baba Ramdev

“This is so as the right to reputation of a living individual under Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be sacrificed and crucified at the altar of the right to freedom of speech and expression of another and both have to be harmonised and balanced in as much as no amount of damages can redeem the damage to reputation of any person and merely because there have been previous publications on the same issue, the same does not permit any repetitions of prima facie defamatory insinuations against him,” the court said.

Acting in compliance with the high court order, the book’s publisher, Juggernaut Books, said it would not be publishing, distributing or selling the book at all unless certain portions of the book are deleted. Since the matter is sub judice, Juggernaut declined any comment on the merits of the case. However, Juggernaut’s founder, Chiki Sarkar, tweeted that her company would be approaching the Supreme Court.

Authored by Priyanka Pathak Narain, the book documents the life of yoga guru-turned entrepreneur whose associate, Balkrishna, was recently listed by Barclays as the 11th richest person in India.

In an interview with The Wire, the author spoke extensively on the research that went into the process of writing the book.

“Some sources were easy to find, others took months to identify and track down. Nearly everyone asked me: ‘Are you writing for him or against him?’ No one seemed to believe me when I replied, ‘I have no angle. I just want to hear the story as you remember it. Yet, they all talked and connected me to someone else who wanted to talk. It felt as if they had been waiting for someone to knock at their door and ask them their story. It need not have been me. It could have been anyone. They were, all of them, ready to share their memories of their time with Baba Ramdev and his growing empire.” said the author.

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