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Russian court rejects Gita ban

A day after external affairs minister SM Krishna met Russian envoy Alexander Kadakin, a court in Siberia dismissed a case that demanded a ban on Bhagwad Gita.

delhi Updated: Dec 28, 2011 22:42 IST

A day after external affairs minister SM Krishna met Russian envoy Alexander Kadakin, a court in Siberia dismissed a case that demanded a ban on Bhagwad Gita.

In June, Siberian state prosecutors demanded a ban on the Bhagwad Gita As It Is - a Russian translation of Gita by ISKCON founder AC Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada -alleging the book created "social discord".

Their case was built on the testimony of local experts, who said the book promoted religious hatred.

The prosecutors had asked the court to include the book on the 'Russian federal list of extremist materials', which has banned more than 1,000 texts, including Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf and books distributed by the Jehovah's Witnesses and scientology movements.

The demand resulted in a storm of protests in India and abroad and even caused disruption in Parliament. Krishna assured the House that the government was pursuing the matter and on Tuesday, met the Russian envoy and told him Moscow should provide all possible help to resolve the issue, which has been in court for the last six months.

On Wednesday, rejecting the petition, judge G Butenko of the Leninsky district court in Tomsk, said there was no ground to recognise the book as extremist literature, as it was "one of the interpretations of the sacred Hindu scripture Bhagwad Gita".

Welcoming the ban, a spokesman from the external affairs ministry said, "We appreciate this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue and are glad to put this episode behind us. We also appreciate the efforts of all friends in Russia who made this outcome possible."

ISKCON members, who also welcomed the verdict, had alleged that the Russian Orthodox Church was behind the court case, as it wanted to limit their activities.

Russia's human rights ombudsman Vladimir Lukin said the attempt to ban the Bhagwad Gita amounted to "infringement on the constitutional right to the freedom of consciousness".