Delhi court stays publication of book on Asaram case
An excerpt from ‘Gunning for the Godman’ was published by ‘Scroll.in’ on August 11.
A court in Delhi on Friday ordered a stay on the publication of a book on religious leader Asaram’s conviction and arrest in a rape case. Asaram is currently serving a life term in Jodhpur in Rajasthan.
The court’s order came on a civil suit filed by Sanchita Gupta, an associate of Asaram who was convicted under the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences in 2018 in the case related to the rape of a 16-year-old girl.
Gupta told the court that an excerpt from the book, titled Gunning for the Godman: The True Story Behind Asaram Bapu’s Conviction, which was published by Scroll.in, was defamatory and would influence her appeal pending against the conviction in the Rajasthan High Court.
The book was scheduled to be published by HarperCollins on Saturday. It is a first-hand account Asaram’s arrest and conviction by police officer Ajay Lamba along with writer Sanjeev Mathur.
Gupta’s lawyer Vivek Aggarwal told the court that the contents of the book were different from trial records. Agarwal also argued that the book was a “one-sided narration of events”. He said that it was possible that the High Court could order a re-examination of witnesses in the case or order a re-trial of his client.
The court noted that the book would hurt Gupta’s reputation. “Some parts of the said article ..which has reference of plaintiff and the said paras are in nature of defamatory against the plaintiff, particularly, when the matter is sub-judice,” Additional District Judge RL Meena said. “I am of the considered view that plaintiff’s reputation is at stake and her reputation would suffer irreparable harm, if the ex parte injunction is not granted particularly when the said book is going to be published on 05.09.2020. Therefore, defendants are restrained from publishing the said book till the next date of hearing” on September 30.
In 2013, two sisters from Surat had filed separate complaints against Asaram and his son Narayan Sai, accusing them of rape and illegal confinement. In April 2019, a local court in Surat sentenced Narayan Sai to life imprisonment after the younger sister accused him of repeatedly raping her between 2002 and 2005 when she was living at his ashram.
In April 2018, Asaram was convicted in a separate rape case in Jodhpur in Rajasthan, where he is currently serving a life term awarded by the court. The case against him in Rajasthan was filed after a 16-year-old accused him of raping her in 2013.