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SC rejects plea to ban ‘Muhammad’, book by ex-UP Waqf Board chair who Yati converted to Hinduism

New Delhi: The Supreme Court Friday rejected a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) asking for a ban on the book Muhammad. It also refused to order the arrest of the book’s author, Jitendra Tyagi alias Wasim Rizvi, and the controversial head priest of Ghaziabad’s Dasna Devi temple, Yati Narsinghanand, for alleged hate speech

The book on the Prophet Muhammad, written in Hindi, was reportedly published in November last year.

The court was hearing a PIL filed by the Indian Muslim Shia Isna Ashari Jamaat, a Shia religious organisation. The petition asked the court to order Tyagi and Narsinghanand’s “preventive arrest” and restrain them “making incendiary and hurtful remarks against the religion of Islam”. Tyagi, a former chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board, was converted to Hinduism by Narsinghanand last year.

The petition, which was filed in February 2022, described the duo as a “threat to the security and integrity, the social harmony and public peace and to the law-and-order situation”.

The court indicated that allowing the petition would amount to accepting the charges before the case was tried.

“You are asking us to order a criminal investigation under Article 32, That we cannot do,” the bench headed by Chief Justice of India U.U. Lalit told the petitioners Friday. “If we allow this, then what will happen during the trial? You can avail the appropriate remedy, not here.”

Article 32 confers the right to approach the Supreme Court for the enforcement of fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution.

The petitioner then agreed to drop the demand and asked the court to consider the other prayers in the petition, but the court dismissed the petition in its entirety

Both Tyagi and Narsinghanand have been accused of making hate speeches in the past and were arrested in January for allegedly making provocative speeches at the ‘Dharam Sansad’ held in Haridwar in December last year — an assembly of Hindu ascetics that allegedly saw several instances of hate speech against minorities. 

In May, Tyagi was granted bail on medical grounds for three months. On 29 August, the Supreme Court refused to extend his bail and told him to surrender by 2 September. The court had said then that his regular bail application would be heard on 9 September.

Tyagi surrendered before a Haridwar court Friday.  

Also Read: ‘Ban non-Hindus from Char Dham sites’: Seer who spoke at Haridwar Dharma Sansad writes to Dhami

Delhi HC had rejected a similar plea

A similar plea was filed before the Delhi High Court last year demanding that Tyagi be restrained from “making statements and/or publishing remarks that are lascivious, prurient derogatory and hurtful, against the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), the religion of Islam, its followers, its tenets and/ or against the Holy Qur’an”. 

The suit, filed by one Qamar Hasnain, also demanded a ban on the sale, publication, and circulation of the book. According to the Delhi High Court’s order, the petitioner in the case claimed the contents of the book “are damaging to communal peace and harmony, and uses derogatory and denigrating language against Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).”

The high court rejected this plea in December last year, saying that “in the absence of disclosure of infringement of any legal right, the plaintiff’s prayer seeking injunction and damages on account of being offended or aggrieved by the contents of a book — which allegedly is hurtful to his religious sentiments — would not give him any right to approach this court by way of the present suit”.

The court, however, clarified that it hadn’t examined the contents of the book, and that Hasnain was therefore “entitled to exercise all his rights and remedies under the law”.

(Edited by Uttara Ramaswamy)

Also Read: No hate in Chavhanke’s speech at 2021 Delhi event, must practise tolerance, police tell SC

Source: The Print

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