The Supreme Court on November 30, 2018, issued a notice to Yoga guru Ramdev on a plea by a publisher challenging the Delhi High Court's verdict restraining sale and publication of a book purportedly on his life.
A Bench comprising of Justices Madan B. Lokur
and Deepak Gupta
was hearing a petition filed by the publisher, Juggernaut Books Private Limited against Delhi High Court's September 29, 2018, judgment. The Delhi High Court had passed the restraining order after Ramdev claimed that the book titled "Godman To Tycoon" The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev had defamatory content and harmed his economic interests and reputation.
Senior advocate Kapil Sibal, appearing for the publisher, told the apex court that there were "some significant" and "very interesting issues" in the matter. The Bench also asked why the publisher has made e-commerce websites Amazon India and Flipkart Internet Private Limited, which were earlier selling the book online, parties in the plea. "Why do you want Amazon and Flipkart (as parties) unnecessarily in this," the Bench asked and issued a notice to Ramdev only. The Delhi High Court in its September verdict, restraining the sale, publication and distribution of the book, had said that 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. It had said the publisher was restrained from selling and publishing the book till the time the alleged objectionable portion was deleted. The book penned by journalist Priyanka Pathak Narain was released on July 29, 2017. After its release on August 4, 2018, Ramdev approached the trial court claiming that the allegations in the book relating to his life were incorrect. The trial court had restrained the publisher from publishing and selling the book until further orders. It had also restrained Amazon India and Flipkart Internet Pvt. Ltd from selling it online and stop its pending deliveries to buyers. On April 28, 2018, however, an additional senior civil judge (ASCJ) had removed the ban which prompted Ramdev to approach the Delhi High Court. The Delhi High Court had stayed an order of the ASCJ lifting the ban on publication and sale of the book. It had also granted interim relief to Ramdev while hearing his plea challenging the ASCJ's order. While restraining the publishing of the book, the Delhi High Court noted that the person about whom the book is written is a "living human being" who was entitled to be treated with dignity. It also said that the portions of the book "which make readers think that he is an ambitious villain,” until so proved in the court of law, are necessary to be restrained from being published and distributed for sale till disposal of the case pending before the lower court. The apex court has listed the matter for further hearing in the first week of February next year.