Civil defamation suit filed by SANATAN SANSTHA against publisher JUGGERNAUT BOOKS and author DHIRENDRA K. JHA seeking Rs 10 crores in damages dismissed in landmark victory for free speech
On February 15, 2020 the court of Civil Judge, Senior Division and J.M.F.C., Ponda, Goa, presided by Sh. Anil Scaria, rejected a civil defamation suit filed by the Sanatan Sanstha in 2018 seeking Rs 10 crores in damages against publisher Juggernaut Books and author Dhirendra K. Jha for the publication and sale of the book Shadow Armies: Fringe Organizations and Foot Soldiers of Hindutva, first published in 2017. The publisher and author were represented by advocates Satyajit Sarna and Rahul Kukreja.
The February 15 order is a victory for the right to freedom of speech. Sanatan Sanstha has previously filed a number of civil and criminal cases against journalists, editors and activists.
The publisher of Juggernaut Books, Chiki Sarkar, and CEO, Simran Khara, said ‘At our core we believe that books, authors and ideas must be defended against attempts to silence, censor, ban and injunct. It can be intimidating to face multi-million-dollar lawsuits but in this instance at least the courts have really come through for us and we are overjoyed by the judgment.’
The author Dhirendra K. Jha said, ‘I feel a sense of relief and vindication. Persons who feel deeply uncomfortable by my research and my work attempted to silence me by alleging defamation and unleashing a punishing process on me and my publisher. But truth is a defence against defamation and, in this case, justice and the truth have thankfully prevailed.’
The book is, and had been, available for sale on the Juggernaut app and in online and physical retail stores.