The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to order the Delhi University to remove alleged objectionable references against Lord Rama, Sita and Lakshmana in a chapter on Ramayana in a textbook prescribed for graduate-level history students.
A Bench of Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar was disposing a Public Interest Litigation filed by a lawyer — Monika Arora — which contended that the “objectionable references in the book that was hurting the feelings of Hindus was a violation of fundamental rights”.
“Revered figures of Hinduism, namely Lord Rama, Lakshman, Sita and Hanuman have been depicted in Bad light. The chapter use derogatory, defamatory and offensive language, regarding Hindu Gods-Goddesses,” Arora pointed out.
She was objecting to scholar A.K. Ramanujan’s essay, ‘Three Hundred Ramanayas: Five Examples and Three Thoughts on Translation’.
The essay is a recommended reading for the students of second-year BA (honours) course in history.
After hearing arguments and going through the “objectionable references”, Justice Shah found nothing wrong in it.
“Ramanujan’s is a scholarly research. It is an essay on different folk traditions related to the Ramayana. You should understand that the epic is not limited to north India and every state has a different version of Ramayana “
The Chief Justice asked the petitioner: “Why have you become so intolerant? We are here to defend Article 19 (Freedom of expression under
the constitution) and not destroy it.”
The Bench made it clear its courts could not interfere in the matter and it was for the university to decide. “We cannot entertain this petition. We will deliver a reasoned judgement later”, the court said.