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A Delhi court has refused to order registration of a criminal case against a former Australian aide of spiritual leader Mata Amritanandamayi, and some others who allegedly made derogatory remarks against her in a book.
The court's order came on a plea filed by a man, who claimed to be a follower of Amritanandamayi (Amma), and had sought lodging of an FIR against Australian-born woman Gail Tredwell alias Gayatri and Jessi Hoffman, a ghostwriter and editor, along with few others.
Metropolitan Magistrate Arvind Bansal also rejected the man's plea to ban a book written by Gail which allegedly contained derogatory remarks against Hindu religion and defamatory remarks on the working of Amma's ashram in Kerala.
"Since the publication or circulation of the alleged book is not banned or stayed in India either by a court order or by a Government notification, the seizure of books available in the market with assistance of police is not warranted.
"The contents of the book being allegedly derogatory or defamatory to an individual Trust cannot be the sole ground to order investigation after registration of an FIR particularly where such allegation may make out a ground of private complaint for a non-cognizable offences," the court said.
Complainant Vishnu Gupta had alleged in his complaint that Gail, who was a close disciple of Amma for about two decades and had left the ashram in 1999, has written a book, 'Holy Hell, A Memoir of Faith, Devotion and Pure Madness' which narrates tales of alleged exploitation and abuse in the ashram.
The court, however, declined the plea and said, "the allegations are such which do not warrant any custodial interrogation of any of the accused and thus, investigating agencies are not required to be involved in the process".
"Also, even the fact that the accused persons have allegedly cast aspersions about the character of spiritual leader, does not tantamount to attack on teaching of Hinduism.
"The present complaint with allegations against writing called 'Holy Hell' being blasphemous to Hindus, Hinduism and Amma appears to be highly personal assumption and opinion of a religious Hindu," the court said.
It said the relief sought by the complainant is premature and no prima facie offence as alleged is made out.
The court further said "as far as imputations personally against Amma, senior members of Trust or the Trust as such are concerned, the same may give rise to ground for separately initiating and pursuing civil or criminal litigation, as the case may be.
"Complainant has no locus standi to pursue the present criminal litigation on behalf of alleged defamed individuals," the magistrate added.