Bihar court summons Sonia over Durga poster
A local court in Bihar on Thursday ordered issue of summons to Congress president Sonia Gandhi [Images] for allegedly outraging religious feelings of Hindus for her depiction as Goddess Durga in a poster at the party's Muradabad office in Uttar Pradesh.
A fast-track court judge Vijay Kumar Mandal ordered issue of summons to her after hearing the complainant, an advocate Sudhir Ojha.
The court also issued summons to Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chief Rita Bahuguna and Muradabad District Congress Committee president Ajay Taleshwar Soni.
Welcoming the court's decision, Ojha told rediff.com over telephone, "I am happy that the court issued summon to Sonia, the most powerful woman, for hurting sentiments of Hindus. The court has again proved that no one is above the law of the land."
"I had filed a complaint against Sonia on the ground that posters depicting her as Goddess Durga had hurt millions of Hindus," Ojha said.
Mandal directed that Sonia Gandhi, Bahuguna and Soni should appear in person or their counsels on the next date of hearing on June 26, failing which the court would be compelled to take a unilateral decision.
Earlier, the court had on April 14 issued notices to them asking them to explain their position on May 22.
District Judge H K Srivastava had on March 25 admitted the complaint filed by Ojha against Gandhi and the others.
The charges were made under three sections of IPC: Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295 (a) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious belief) and 120(b) (criminal conspiracy).
After admitting the petition on March 25, Srivastava had transferred it to fast-track Judge V K Mandal for initiating legal proceedings.
Earlier on December one, 2007, a magistrate had dismissed Ojha's petition that prompted the lawyer to move the court of the district judge on December 11, 2007.
Ojha, in his complaint, alleged the Muradabad district Congress president in league with UP Congress committee chief had put up the poster on the wall of the party's Muradabad office on June 21, 2007. Sonia Gandhi was in criminal conspiracy with them in the exercise, he alleged.
The poster with Gandhi as 'Durga' was beamed by television channels and photographs appeared in several newspapers hurting the sentiments of the Hindus, he alleged.