The Delhi High Court on Tuesday, gave a green signal to publishers HarperCollins to go ahead with the book titled ‘Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction’. The HC set aside the ex parte interim injunction order by a district court in a suit preferred by co-convict in the Asaram Bapu rape case, Sanchita, restraining its publication. According to a report by the legal portal Barandbench, a Single Judge Bench of Justice Najmi Waziri, pronounced the order.
The HC has directed that the already printed copies of the book be sold along with a flyer clarifying that “the book is based on the judgment of a trial court, which is under appeal” reported B&B. Online sales will also have to carry an electronic disclaimer, the Court added.
HarperCollins had sought a vacation of the stay order, and contended that pre-publication censorship ought to be done very cautiously and that there was no occasion for the same in the present case.
According to B&B, HarperCollins informed HC that the allegedly defamatory content was based entirely on the trial record and judgment. It was added that the co-accused, Sanchita “malafidely waited until the eve of the publication to seek a stay when the public announcement with respect to the book launch was done in July,” stated the news report.
However, Sanchita had argued that her right to reputation and fair trial ought to be balanced with the right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. According to news reports, she had stated that the appeal against the conviction was pending, and claimed that “there was a continuation of trial and irreparable injury would be caused if the publication of the book was allowed.” The Court of Additional District Judge had stayed the book’s publication on the ground that the appeal against the conviction in the rape case was sub-judice before the Rajasthan High Court.
As reported by SabrangIndia earlier Publishers Harper Collins, had then moved Delhi HC, seeking permission to publish book on rape accused ‘godman’ Arasam Bapu, aka Asumal Sirumalani Harpalani. The publishers had contended that the ex-parte order passed by a district court at Patiala House, fell into serious errors.
The book, ‘Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction’, is authored by Ajay Lamba, Additional Commissioner of Police, Jaipur and Sanjiv Mathur, it was scheduled to be released on September 5, 2020.
Self proclaimed ‘godman’, rape accused Asaram’s aide Sanchita Gupta had also been convicted under the POCSO Act in 2018. According to a September 29, 2018 report by The Hindustan times, the Rajasthan High Court had suspended the 20-year-sentence of Sanchita alias Shilpi Gupta. The HC had granted her bail on a personal bond of Rs 2 lakh with two sureties of Rs 1 lakh.
The special court for POCSO (Protection of Children from Sexual Offences) Act cases had on April 25, 2018, sentenced Asaram Bapu to life imprisonment till his death. His two aides, Gupta and Sharad were sentenced to 20 years each, reported the HT. Gupta had then filed an appeal in the high court against her conviction along with an application for suspension of the sentence.