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President Pranab Mukherjee Sued for 'Objectionable' Content in His Book

A group of five petitioners have filed a civil suit against President Pranab Mukherjee accusing him of contempt of court for “raking up the sub-judice matter” of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in his book ‘The Turbulent Years in 1980-996’.

Debayan Roy | News18.com

Updated:November 8, 2016, 7:52 PM IST
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President Pranab Mukherjee Sued for 'Objectionable' Content in His Book
File photo of former President Pranab Mukherjee. (PTI)
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New Delhi: A group of five petitioners have filed a civil suit against President Pranab Mukherjee accusing him of contempt of court for “raking up the sub-judice matter” of the Ram Janmabhoomi dispute in his book ‘The Turbulent Years in 1980-996’.

The lawyers led by Supreme Court advocate-on-record Vishnu Shankar Jain on Tuesday approached the Patiala House Court requesting immediate halt of the release of the book in its present form, and deletion of a few portions.

The petitioners allege that President Mukherjee’s book mentioned that the locks of the Ram Janmabhoomi complex were opened on the orders of former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi, which they argued was far from the truth. “How can Rajiv Gandhi order the locks to be opened? It was on the petition of the present petitioner in this case, Umesh Chandra Pandey that District Judge KM Pandey ordered the locks to be opened on 1st February, 1986,” Advocate Vishnu Shankar Jain told News18.

However, legal experts said the Constitution doesn’t provide for suing the President.

“The immunity granted to a President under Article 361 of the Constitution is all pervasive, which includes litigation. Such a suit holding the President liable for any act cannot succeed,” Justice (Retd) Bharat Bhushan Parsoon told News18.

The former judge of Punjab & Haryana High Court said he couldn’t recall any such suit filed against any sitting President.

Former Chief Justice of the Punjab and Haryana High Court Justice (Retd) Mukul Mudgal echoed his former brother judge’s opinion when he said that no such suit would stand a chance in a court of law.

The President’s spokesperson was not immediately available for comment.

But the petitioners are hopeful and Advocate Jain argued that President Mukherjee was liable for contempt of court for voicing his “personal opinion about favouring Babri Masjid more than Ram Janmabhoomi when the matter is still sub-judice.”

“He has even said that with the demolition of Babri Masjid, Indians should hang their heads in shame. How can he say such a thing? He cannot say anything against the Hindu organisations. Did he hang his head in shame when hundreds of temples were destroyed in India?” said Advocate Hari Shankar Jain.

Jain said he was hopeful of the clause (4) of Article 361, which enabled filing of a civil suit, if such an act by the president was ‘purported to be done by him in his personal capacity.’

Venu Rajamony, the Press Secretary to the president, declined to comment on this civil suit.

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| Edited by: Puja Menon
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