THE DELHI High Court has held that “right to reputation of a living individual” cannot be “sacrificed and crucified at the altar of the right to freedom of speech and expression of another” as it restrained publication and sale of a book on yoga guru Ramdev.
According to the yoga guru, the book titled ‘Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev’ was defamatory in nature and infringed his “right to privacy”.
In her judgment, pronounced on Saturday, Justice Anu Malhotra observed that the book is written about a “living human”, who is “entitled to be treated with dignity and has a right of social reputation as an ordinary citizen even if he be a public figure”.
“…as reputation is a cherished value and an element of personal security, portions of the book which make readers think that he is an ambitious villain, until so proved in the court of law, are necessarily to be restrained from being published and distributed for sale till disposal of the suit… pending before the trial court”.
The court made it clear that the author, publisher and sellers are restrained from publishing, distributing and selling the book until they delete references to the disappearance of Swami Shankar Dev and the murder of the Swami Yogananda, stating that there was no evidence to support Ramdev’s connection to the two matters.
The judge further observed, “This is so as the right to reputation of a living individual under Article 21 of the Constitution of India cannot be sacrificed and crucified at the altar of the right to freedom of speech and expression of another and both have to be harmonized and balanced in as much as no amount of damages can redeem the damage to reputation of any person and merely because there have been previous publications on the same issue, the same does not permit any repetitions of prima facie defamatory insinuations against him.”