New Delhi, November 6: The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed an appeal against an interim order of the Delhi High Court allowing the publication of a book on the “true story behind” the conviction of self-styled godman Asaram Bapu for sexually assaulting a minor at his ashram.

A three-judge Bench led by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar rejected the appeal filed by Sanchita Gupta against publisher Harper Collins, The Hindu reported.

Gupta, represented by senior advocate Devdutt Kamat, contended that the book, ‘Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction’, contained defamatory and baseless material against her. She was the warden of the ashram. She argued that the book prejudices her appeal against her conviction as an “accomplice” of the godman in the ashram. She sought to protect her reputation and right to fair name beyond the conviction.

Gupta said the Delhi High Court decision of September 22 to set aside a trial court’s ex-parte injunction on publication was based on “flimsy grounds.” But the apex court disagreed with her.

“We decline to interfere in this special leave petition. The special leave petition is, accordingly, dismissed,” the Supreme Court recorded in its order.

However, the Bench gave Gupta liberty to present her contentions before the trial court for a remedy. The Bench said the trial court should go on to decide the case on merits, uninfluenced by the observations made by the Delhi High Court on September 22.

In its September 22 order, the High Court had noted that it would be “against the principles of special leave petition to debar all discussion on a subject, especially regarding a court verdict which is available in the public domain.”

The High Court had said there could be no bar on a book if it involved only a fair discussion on merits of the case without malice.

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

https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-dismisses-appeal-against-high-court-order-allowing-book-on-asaram-bapu/article33043436.ece

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