Ashram Defamed in Parliament

Posted By Author on July 15, 2010

20/8/1966:
My father and me had difference on Ashram business.  He did not want his son to be befooled.
A Regd.letter from Gyanbabu, Shaulmari, came.  A court case against Navabharat was to be instituted at Amravati by my brother Advocate R.S. Padhye. He sent a copy of petition of Ashram for guidelines.

25/8/1966:
Ramani Rajan Das’s Regd. Letter dictated by Baba received. He felt that I am dodging and hoodwinking.  It was not true.  I lost mood for the day.  Drafted a strong letter to Ramanidada and another addressed directly to Baba and sent them by Regd. Post A.D. next day, i.e. 26th Aug.

30/8/1966:
Discussed with brother Rameshbhau and he drafted criminal complaint against Shah Nawaz.

1/9/1966:
I typed Shah Nawaz case dictated by brother. I received a Letter from Ramani Ranjan Das, Regd. A.D. It stated that my letters of 23rd and 26th were received.  Baba’s bond with me was eternal and love and blessings from Baba.  Get ready for action.  I was happy to read it.  Whenever Baba used to be angry, he would not put love and blessing.
On 7th and 12th Sept. from my pocket cleared loan of friends Nana Keskar and Baal Jawlekar of Punjab National Bank.

8/9/1966:
Brother brought a local vernacular newspaper ‘Matrubhumi’ and showed a news item.  In the Parliament Bhupesh Gupta and others charged Shaulmari Ashram of having accumulated black money and indulging in unlawful business and that enquiry is to be made by Union Deputy Finance Minister L.N.Mishra regarding income tax.  I sent an express telegram to Baba in the name of Shomu at Okhimath informing the statement.  Both my father and brother were surprised with all my business and asked me as to what for telegram was sent.

13/9/1966:
Received Regd. Letter from Ramni Ranjan Das.  In the evening received urgent telegram from Ramanidada informing me to collect and send all newspapers, which reported Bhupesh Gupta’s statement in the Parliament.

21/9/1966:
Brought book from Advocate Zaveri on Parliamentary Privileges to study and send relevant information.

22/9/1966:
Collected newspapers: Maratha, Loksatta, Times of India, Tarun Bharat and Hitavada of Nagpur and local Matrubhumi.  All papers covered malicious statement of Bhupesh Gupta.  Requested brother to give his legal opinion on Bhupesh Gupta’s statement.  He wrote and I typed it.

23/9/1966:
I posted letter, brother’s legal opinion and newspapers to Baba at Okhimath, Uttarakhand.
Bhupesh Gupta, Member of the Parliament demanded probe into Shaulmari Ashram Affair. Major newspapers all over India covered this news. It was flashed by P.T.I. (Press Trust of India). The ditto news published by Hitavada of Nagpur is as

The Hitavada, Thursday, Sept. 8. 1966
Shaulmari Ashram Affairs
M.P. Demand Probe

New Delhi.  Sept 7 – Mr. L.N.Mishra, Deputy Finance Minister, today told the Rajya Sabha that the Finance Ministry had asked the Income Tax Department to conduct an enquiry into the affairs of Shaulmari Ashram in Cooch Behar to find out whether the Ashram was liable to Income Tax.
At present, no Income Tax was collected from the Ashram, he added.

The Deputy Home Minister was replying to Bhupesh Gupta and several others who had alleged that the Ashram had a lot of ‘Black Money’ and was ‘indulging in malpractices’. The members also alleged that the Sadhu of this Ashram was ‘posing’ as Subhash Chandra Bose.

Mr.Mishra said when he was the Deputy Home Minister; he had also received certain allegations against this Ashram.

Mr. B.B. Das asked whether the Sadhu of this Ashram had been served with a warrant by a Magistrate to appear before the court. The Sadhu, he said could not be seen by any outsider unless he has a ‘passport’ with his photo affixed. ‘When was this Sadhu given diplomatic status by Government? He asked.
Mr.Mishra: I am not aware of these things. –PTI

Baba wanted to file libel suits against newspapers and Members of Parliament regarding the above referred news item. He directed me to seek legal opinion on this issue from my brother Advocate R.S.Padhye who later became High Court Judge. My brother gave the following opinion and it was dispatched to Baba.

The Opinion of Shri R.S.Padhye on statement made by Bhupesh Gupta on 7/9/1966 that has defamed Shaulmari Ashram.

“Certain newspapers have published a news item purporting to be report of the Parliamentary proceedings and the said news item contains words which are per se defamatory of the Shaulmari Ashram generally and its Founder and management particularly. A close-analysis of these news items will disclose that they differ in substantial particulars. Therefore it follows that they are not faithful reproductions of the Parliamentary proceedings. A comparison of each news item with the authentic copy of the proceedings will be absolutely necessary.

The question referred to me is twofold.

1.    Whether the members of the Parliament could be held legally liable for defamatory statement made on the floor of the House? The answer is that Article 208 of the Constitution of India gives complete protection to Members of Parliament in this behalf. The protection is available to the statements made by the members within the four walls of the House. The privilege is absolute. The Law that has developed on this point makes it clear and the position that emerges is, though ridiculous, that even if the Member of the Parliament intentionally and maliciously maligns a man is completely protected. The only condition being that he has to make that statement on the floor of House.

2.    The second aspect is as to whether a repetition on the floor of the House made outside the House either by the member or any other person including newspaper, is or is not subject to remedies available under Civil Law. The petition on this point is that there is no absolute privilege attaching to the publication of extracts from the proceedings in the House. The privilege that attaches to such publication is only a qualified privilege and in order to avail of it the report must be a fair and accurate, that is to say (a) it must have been made in good faith and without malice. If the publisher or maker of the report is able to prove the above referred two aspects it will not be liable for defamation.”

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