Delhi High Court refuses to stay trial court order asking IMA chief not to use platform to propagate religion

Bigoted attempt by the IMA chief to spread religion as part of IMA struck down. Should he step down?

Bigoted attempt by the IMA chief to spread religion as part of IMA struck down. Should he step down?
Bigoted attempt by the IMA chief to spread religion as part of IMA struck down. Should he step down?

J A Jayalal caught using organisation’s platform for promoting Christianity

The Delhi High Court Monday refused to stay an order of a trial court directing IMA (Indian Medical Association) President J A Jayalal not to use the organisation’s platform to propagate any religion and cautioning him that loose comments cannot be expected from a person chairing the responsible post. Justice Asha Menon said the Court will not pass any ex-parte order as nobody appeared on behalf of the person on whose complaint the trial court had passed the order on June 4.

The High Court issued notice on the appeal filed by the Indian Medical Association (IMA) chief challenging the trial court’s order and listed the matter for further hearing on June 16. It said the High Court will have to look into the order passed by the trial court and cannot take a superficial view.

If anyone promotes allopathy, this does not mean that the person was asking for conversion into Christianity, the counsel said, adding that Jayalal was not against Ayurveda but against mixopathy.

The trial court had passed the order on a plea filed against Jayalal for allegedly starting a defamatory campaign against the Hindu religion “by way of promoting Christianity, in the garb of proving the superiority of Allopathic medicines over Ayurveda in treatment of COVID-19 patients”. Complainant Rohit Jha had alleged before the trial court that Jayalal was misusing his position and misleading the nation and its citizens in order to convert Hindus to Christianity.

The trial court had said no injunction is required based on the assurance given by Jayalal that he will not indulge in such kind of activity and had noted that the plea seemed to be an offshoot of a verbal duel with respect to Allopathy vs Ayurveda. Challenging the trial court’s, advocate Tanmaya Mehta, representing Jayalal, claimed that the IMA chief never gave such an assurance to the trial court since he has not done anything wrong.

He sought to stay the observations made against Jayalal in the trial court’s court order saying they were affecting his reputation as he was heading a body that has 3.5 lakh doctors as its members. He contended that there was no television debate between Jayalal and Yoga guru Ramdev and that he was not propagating any religion including Christianity and that the suit before the trial court was based on fake news. If anyone promotes allopathy, this does not mean that the person was asking for conversion into Christianity, the counsel said, adding that Jayalal was not against Ayurveda but against mixopathy.

The counsel said Jayalal never uttered any remarks against Hinduism nor ever tried to force convert any Indian of any religion into Christianity. “The act of appellant (Jayalal), if any, does not defame respondent/ plaintiff (Jha) therein per se or cause any per se offence, causing per se injury. Accordingly, the suit claiming defamation against a class is not maintainable,” the appeal said and sought setting aside of trial court’s order.

The trial court had asked the IMA chief not to indulge in any activity contrary to the principles enshrined in the Constitution of India and maintain the dignity of the position chaired by him. It had also cited a couplet written by poet Mohd. Iqbal – “Mazhab Nahi Sikhata Apas Mein Bair Rakhna; Hindi Hai Hum Watan Hai Hindustan Humara; Saare Jahan se Acha Hindustan Humara [Religion does not teach us to fight against each other. We are all Indians. Our India is the best.]”

“The word Hindi in this couplet, written by a Muslim poet, does not refer to Hindus but is referred to all Hindustanis‘ irrespective of caste, colour and religion, which is the beauty of secularism,” the trial court judge had said. The complainant before the trial court had cited articles and interviews of the IMA president and had sought direction from the court to restrain him from writing, speaking in media, or publishing any content which is defamatory to Hindu religion or Ayurveda.

Jha had averred that an article of March 30, 2020, published in Nation World News read with TV debate of defendant with Baba Ramdev on various TV news channels in May 2021 have seriously disparaged and denigrated his “reputation in the society being a Hindu”. This comes amidst an ongoing tussle between Ramdev and the IMA after the former’s alleged comments against COVID-19 vaccination and the efficacy of allopathic medicine.

Meanwhile, Delhi Medical Association (DMA) had also filed a case against Baba Ramdev in Delhi High Court after their war of words on Allopathy Vs Ayurveda. The High Court had issued notice to Ramdev. The next hearing on this case is scheduled for July 13.[1]

[with PTI inputs]

References:

[1] Delhi HC issues summons to Ramdev on DMA plea over false info about Coronil kitJun 3, 2021, Indian Express

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