Court Throws Out ‘Ban Gita’ Plea


New Delhi: Hindus in Russia last week posted a major victory in a hard-fought six-month legal battle as a Siberian court axed a plea seeking to ban the Bhagavad Gita and to brand the holy text “extremist” literature, even as hopes were expressed that the state prosecutors do not appeal against the verdict.

During the final hearing in the Leninsky district court of Tomsk city, Federal Judge G.E. Butenko, in a one-line oral order, rejected the petition, saying he was not “pleased” with the prosecutors’ plea, Sadhu Priya Das, a leader of the Russian unit of ISKCON, told IANS over phone from Moscow. 

”The court has dismissed the state prosecutors’ case during the hearing today,” Das said, adding that the detailed verdict will be made available only after a week. 

The court reviewed the state prosecutors’ plea, report of an expert group on the Bhagavad Gita and the Hindu groups’ arguments against the case before delivering the verdict, providing Hindus worldwide a reason to rejoice. 

The court did not hear the Russian human rights ombudsman as it did not feel this was necessary, Das added. 

The verdict triggered joyous and celebratory reactions from Krishna followers and Hindus worldwide, with Iskcon’s global chief Bhakti Vijnana Goswami thanking “the court, Indian and Russian governments, Indian embassy in Moscow, the Russian embassy in New Delhi, the media in both countries and all those people worldwide who stood by the Hindu campaign to get their rights upheld”. 

”The campaign got critical support and important message to Russia that the Bhagavad Gita and Iskcon are important to the Indian hearts,” Goswami, a Russian Iskcon monk on a visit to India, told IANS from Mumbai. 

The Indian government said it was “happy” to learn the case related to Iskcon founder A.C. Bhaktivedanta Swami Prabhupada’s Russian translation of his commentary on the Bhagavad Gita had been dismissed. 

”We appreciate this sensible resolution of a sensitive issue and are glad to put this episode behind us. We also appreciate the efforts of all friends in Russia who made this outcome possible,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Vishnu Prakash said. 

”This demonstrates again that the people of India and Russia have a deep understanding of each other’s cultures and will always reject any attempt to belittle our common civilisational values,” he added.

The case began in June. It caused a political storm in India, with parliament rocked on two days — after IANS first reported the case from Moscow.

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