1. By this petition under Section 96 of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1973 (in short the Code), Notification No. F24/85/Misc.93-PO: dated 21-8-1993 passed by the Government of NCT of Delhi, purported to have been issued under Section 95 of the Code is under challenge. by the notification in question posters entitled: Ram Katha in buddhist tradition and Jain tradition displayed in the banner of the Safdar Hasmi Memorial Trust @ Sahmat were held to have been published, circulated and displayed with deliberate and malicious intention to insult or attempt to insult religious belief of a particular community and also that these posters promote or attempt to promote on the ground of religion, disharmony or feeling of enmity between different religions/communities which act is an offence punishable under Section 153-A and Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (in short the IPC). In exercise of powers conferred under Section 9591) of the Code read with Notification No. U-11011/2/74/UTL (i) dated 20.3.74, the Government of NCT of Delhi has declared every copy of the aforesaid posters and material containing the above-said objectionable material forfeited to the Government.
The notification was issued in the background of the Ayodhya controversy. A national workshop was held on 11th July, 1993 and the programme intended fro 15th August, 1993 was given a concrete shape under the title of the "Mukti Naad" i.e. 'Free Expression'. The programme was to be held at Ram Ki Pairi on the banks of the Saryu River in Ayodhya. It was intended to include social workers, artiest, intellectuals and citizens at which musicians, performer sand artist were to come together to celebrate the social integrity of India and the togetherness of all persons regardless of their religious faith. The programme was also to include an exhibition, A tribute to Ayodhya, to demonstrate its diversity and social and cultural significance over the ages. The exhibition was to be held at 17 places all over the country and was to be organized by the local people from 9th to 14th August, 1993. These locations amongst others were delhi, bombay, Calcutta, Bangalore, Patna, Simla, Amritsar, Chandigarh, Jallandhar, Ranchi, Bhopal, Lucknow, Jaipur, Benaras, Faizabad, Baroda and Hyderabad. In the exhibition, 83 panels consisting of painting, photographs, reproduction of archaeological material, persons, buildings and various texts etc. were displayed. One of these panels was titled "Ram Katha". It consisted of four pages of text on A-4 size paper. it was divided into six sections. Included in these six sections were two posters to which the present petition relates, that is Ram Katha in Buddhist Tradition and Ram Katha in Jain Tradition However, some parts of the poster appears to have attracted notice of the authorities and impugned notification has been issued. The same is reproduced below:
"No F.24/85/Misc.93-PO:- Whereas it appears to the Lieutenant Governor of the National Capital Territory of Delhi that the posters entitled Ram Katha in Buddhist Tradition and Ram Katha in Jain Tradition have with deliberate and malicious intention been published, circulated and displayed by "Sahmat" to insult or attempt to insult the religious belief of a particular community and these posters also promote or attempt to promote on the ground of religious belief of a particular community and these posters also promote or attempt to promote on the ground of religion disharmony or feeling of enmity between different religious communities which act is an offence punishable under section 153A and 295A IPC.