The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed Indian Medical Association (IMA) president J A Jayalal’s appeal against a trial court order asking him not to use the organisation’s platform to propagate any religion and cautioning him that loose comments cannot be expected from a person chairing a responsible post. The appeal is dismissed, said Justice Asha Menon while pronouncing the order.
The high court had issued notice on the appeal filed by the IMA chief challenging the trial court’s order in June. 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 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 complainant cited articles and interviews of the IMA president and had sought a 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 on 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 had seriously disparaged and denigrated his reputation in the society being a Hindu. The trial court had said no injunction was 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.
It nonetheless 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. Challenging the trial court’s order, advocate Tanmaya Mehta, who represented 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 which 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. 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.