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Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against HC Order Allowing Harper Collins To Publish Book 'Gunning For The Godman' On Asaram Bapu Case

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
6 Nov 2020 7:17 AM GMT
Supreme Court Dismisses Appeal Against HC Order Allowing Harper Collins To Publish Book Gunning For The Godman On Asaram Bapu Case
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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal filed against a Delhi High Court interim order allowing publication of Harper Collins' book titled 'Gunning For The Godman', which is based on the criminal case against Asaram Bapu. A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar dismissed the appeal filed by Sanchita Gupta, who was convicted as an aide of the self-styled godman in a case related...

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The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal filed against a Delhi High Court interim order allowing publication of Harper Collins' book titled 'Gunning For The Godman', which is based on the criminal case against Asaram Bapu.

A Bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar dismissed the appeal filed by Sanchita Gupta, who was convicted as an aide of the self-styled godman in a case related to rape of a minor, with a liberty to approach the High Court.

In September 2020, the Delhi High Court had vacated an ex-parte injunction passed by the District Court while holding that where there's a fair discussion in public domain which is based on facts and not malicious, the same is protected under freedom to speech and expression.

Before the Supreme Court, Gupta's counsel, Senior Advocate Devadatt Kamat asserted that the lower Court's order was set aside on "flimsy grounds" and that the Book in question attacked his client's reputation inasmuch as it states that she was in the habit of procuring girls for Asaram.

The Top Court observed that these objections were not recorded in the High Court's order and the Petitioner should have raised this grievance before the High Court itself.

"Did you make grievance before HC which is being made here? Why are you not answering the relevant point? If not, go back to the HC for relief…," the Bench remarked and directed the Petitioner to approach the High Court.

"This dismissal will not come in the way of deciding the issue before High Court," it said.

A Single Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri had on September 22, 2020, given green signal to Harper Collins to go ahead with its book, 'Gunning For The Godman'.

While setting aside the injunction order passed by a lower in Court in favour of Gupta, he had observed,

'In a civilised society, which is governed by rule of law, discussions should be governed by facts. The moment such discussions go into speculations and unproven facts, right to injunction arises.'

He noted that the district court was not made aware of the disclaimer which is present in the book. Moreover, the court noted that the book is based on the facts available in the public domain and the original plaintiffs had moved the district court only on the penultimate date of publication.

The book, alleged to be a true story of the facts surrounding the conviction of self-styled godman Aasaram Bapu was authored by Ajay Lamba, Additional Commissioner of Police, Jaipur and Sanjiv Mathur.

In the proceedings before the Delhi High Court, Senior Advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for Harper Collins, had submitted that while passing the impugned order, the trial court fell into "serious error" in not considering the settled principles of law against pre-publication censorship which is unconstitutional as it is against the right to freedom of expression under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India.

Obhan & Associates represented Harper Collins India in this matter


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