The Delhi High Court has rejected the plaint in a suit against a publication of a book allegedly with derogatory statements against Islam, the Quran and Prophet Mohammed, holding that the Plaintiff failed to show the infringement of a personal legal right or a provision of law to maintain his suit.
Justice Sanjeev Narula, explained that any injury or hurt to personal religious sentiments is not an actionable wrong under the law of torts and at best, a case may have been made out under the criminal law, but it would not grant him the power to entertain the case.
The Court held that the Suit filed by one Qamar Hasnain against the book titled Muhammad authored by Syed Waseem Rizvi was not maintainable.
Plaintiff had arrayed Google, Whatsapp, Facebook and Twitter also as Defendants.
Advocate Dr. Farrukh Khan appeared for the Plaintiff while Mr. Sajan Poovayya, Senior Advocate appeared for the Twitter Communications India Pvt. Ltd.
The Court, however, said that the Plaintiff would be entitled to exercise all his rights and remedies under the law.
"....this Court is of the considered opinion 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 held.
Guided by the fact that Khan (Counsel for Plaintiff) admits to there being no reference/remarks/allegations of a derogatory or defamatory nature against the person of the Plaintiff; and further that the remarks/allegations as alleged to be made are against his religion and its tenets as a whole, the Court is of the opinion that the plaint certainly does not disclose any such legal right, it added.
The Court refused to go into the arguments of the Plaintiff by holding that, "Though the fulcrum of the Plaintiff's argument centres around the reasonable restrictions to the Defendant's right of freedom of speech and expression, these are arguments on merits, and once the jurisdiction of this Court is ousted, the same cannot be examined by this Court in the present proceedings."
In his suit, the Plaintiff who claimed to be a responsible and concerned citizen of India, a religious scholar and a concerned follower of Islam said that he represented the interests of the concerned citizens of India as well as religious followers of Islam and was on a personal mission to create inter-religious dialogue and promote communal harmony.
He claimed that the self-publication made demeaning and incendiary statements against Islam, the Holy Quran and Prophet Mohammed and other revered personages and thus sought a direction to restrain the author from selling, distributing, publicly exhibiting the book.
Plaintiff told the Court that the book was damaging to communal peace and harmony and its contents were offensive, hateful and distressing to even a casual reader, let alone a follower of Islam or an admirer of Prophet Muhammad.