No ban on Bhagavad Gita: Russian court

Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 00:06

Moscow: A Russian court on Wednesday dismissed a
petition seeking a ban on a translated version of Bhagwad Gita
for being "extremist", bringing cheers to followers across the
world.

"The court in the Siberian city of Tomsk has dismissed
the plea," Sadhu Priya Das of Moscow ISKCON told PTI soon
after the verdict was announced.

State prosecutors in the Siberian city of Tomsk had
filed an appeal against a lower court`s dismissal of their
original plea seeking a ban on "Bhagavad Gita As It Is",
written by A C Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada, the founder of
the International Society for Krishna Consciousness (ISKCON).

They claimed that the text was "extremist" literature
full of hatred and insult to non-believers which promoted
social discord.

The higher court in Tomsk "kept the verdict of the lower
court intact," a joyful Das said.

As the judge dismissed the plea, the followers in the
packed courtroom burst into applause, he said.

"We are grateful to the Russian judicial system," Das
said.

Brajendra Nandan Das, Director ISKCON media communication
in India, expressed happiness over the verdict. "We have won.
The petition seeking a ban on the book has been dismissed," he
told.

The case had drawn a flurry of criticism from Hindus
across the world.

When the petition was dismissed by the lower court in
Tomsk on December 28 last year, India had welcomed the verdict
as a "sensible resolution of a sensitive issue".

The original petition seeking a ban on the translated
version of the holy scripture was filed in June 2011 and the
trial prompted sharp reactions from across the world.

External Affairs Minister S M Krishna had asked the
Russian government to help resolve the issue quickly.

Bhagavad Gita was first published in Russia in 1788 and
since then it has been republished many times in various
translations.

Reacting to today`s verdict, Indian Ambassador to Russia,
Ajai Malhotra, said he welcomed the decision of the court.

"I welcome the verdict of the Honourable District Court in
Tomsk today, which has dismissed the appeal petition in the
Bhagavad Gita case.

"It is good that the decision of the lower trial court in
this matter has been reaffirmed. I trust that this issue is
now conclusively behind us," Malhotra said in a statement.

Last month, participants at conference on Bhagvad Gita had
suggested creation of an independent board of scholars to
evaluate various texts for signs of extremism.

"The conference has indicated the permanent historical
acknowledgment of `Bhagavd Gita`, which carries on the
commentatorial tradition of the religious authority, and has
shown its spiritual influence on the cultural development not
only in India, but also in other countries," a resolution
adopted at the conference said.

The participants also firmly believed that the notion of
extremism cannot be applied to such a religious text as
"Bhagavad Gita as it is".

The scholars had also expressed "deep satisfaction in
regards to Tomsk court`s decision to reject the prosecutors`
plea for recognising the `Bhagavad Gita As It Is` as extremist
literature."

They had also expressed their concern with the "low
level" of the general culture of officers of the law
enforcement agencies and the state authorities.

"We would like to draw the government`s and society`s
attention to the urgent problem of the enforcement practice of
the Federal Statute `On counteraction against extremism
activity`, which permits nowadays such abuse towards religious
organisations", the resolution, which was also submitted to
the Russian Foreign Ministry and the Indian embassy in Moscow,
had said.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, March 21, 2012 - 09:05

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