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''Intellectual Freedom Can't Be Stifled Merely Because View Expressed Is Disagreeable To Some" : Delhi HC While Refusing To Ban Salman Khurshid's Book

Nupur Thapliyal
27 Nov 2021 1:59 AM GMT
Intellectual Freedom Cant Be Stifled Merely Because View Expressed Is Disagreeable To Some :  Delhi HC While Refusing To Ban Salman Khurshids Book
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"The freedom to freely express ideas and opinions cannot be permitted to be overshadowed by the ominous cloud of being non-conformist," said the Delhi High Court while dismissing a plea seeking directions to stop the publication and sale of the book "Sunrise Over Ayodhya" written by Congress Leader and Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid.Justice Yashwant Varma further observed that the right...

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"The freedom to freely express ideas and opinions cannot be permitted to be overshadowed by the ominous cloud of being non-conformist," said the Delhi High Court while dismissing a plea seeking directions to stop the publication and sale of the book "Sunrise Over Ayodhya" written by Congress Leader and Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid.

Justice Yashwant Varma further observed that 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.

"In the considered opinion of this Court, the freedom of speech and expression as conferred and guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution must be zealously protected by Courts unless it is conclusively established that the work would fall foul of the constitutional or statutory restrictions on the exercise of that right which apply. A democracy governed by the rule of law would be placed in serious peril if creative voices were stifled or intellectual freedom suppressed or suffocated," the Court added.
"That 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."

The petition was filed by Advocate Vineet Jindal through Advocate Raj Kishor Choudhary, alleging that Khurshid had compared Hindutva to groups like ISIS and BOKO HARAM in his book. The impugned excerpt from the book was:

"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."

The Court noted that the allegations levelled and apprehensions expressed by the petitioner was not based on a holistic reading of the work authored by Khurshid.

"In fact the book in its entirety was not even placed before the Court for its consideration. The entire writ petition rests solely on certain extracts appearing in Chapter Six of the publication. Even that Chapter has not been placed in its entirety before this Court. The Supreme Court has consistently held that while dealing with challenges like the present, it is imperative for the petitioner to establish that upon a comprehensive consideration of the literary work, it is manifest that it would violate the restrictions which are recognized to apply to the exercise of literary freedom," the Court added.

During the course of hearing, the Court had told the petitioner "Ask people not to buy the book or read it."

While dismissing the plea, the Court quoted Voltaire's words which are as follows:

"While I wholly disagree of what you say, I will defend to the death your right to say it."

Case Title: Vineet Jindal v. Union of India & Ors. 

Click Here To Read Order 


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