September 26, 2000
Swami Chaitanya Keerti as the spokesperson of Osho Commune International sent a rejoinder to an article published in Flair, the Sunday magazine section of The Indian Express last year. He was told by Editor (Pune) that he has to stick to the points raised in the article and make the rejoinder concise.
However, instead of Swami Chaitanya Keerti, one Mukesh Sarda, who claimed to be the trustee (his lawyer described him as managing trustee and he described himself as trustee) approached the Press Council of India ( PCI ) claiming that his right to reply was denied and therefore The Indian Express has violated Norm 23 of the Press Council of India which expects journalists to respect the right to reply.
(This norm while expecting the newspaper to publish a rejoinder to anything published earlier, also allows the editor to suitably edit the rejoinder and also at the end offer his own comments)
The editor of The Indian Express (pune) wrote to the PCI challenging the locus of this one Mukesh Sarda and his Neo Sannyas Foundation saying that norm 23 (right of rejoinder) can be invoked only by Swami Chaitanya Keerti, spokesperson of Osho Commune International, who had sent the rejoinder. The respondent (Editor-Pune of IE) also submitted that he was first requesting the PCI to decide on the locus of the complainant and once that is decided he will offer his comments on merit of the complaint in detail.
Alternatively, he submitted, Mukesh Sarda has to established that Swami Chaitanya Keerti was his hiararchial subordinate.
Mukesh Sarda in reply said nothing about Swami Chaitanya Keerti but claimed that Osho Commune International did not have legal status and that it was only a popular terminology created by the press. (Commune is “not a legal entity. It is mythical.” ) and it was his foundation that was spreading the message of Osho.
In his rejoinder, the editor (pune) contested the claim that Osho Commune International was an imaginary name and produced documents like the entrance pass, food pass, copies of Osho Times, articles on Osho Commune International in Osho Times, press notes issued by Osho Commune International etc. The inquiry committee ruled therefore that Mukesh Sarda has not been
able to prove his locus in the matter invoking Norm 23.
The committee however said that since the complainant claimed to spread the message of Osho he was free to write to the editor. The committee at the same time asked the editor to publish the complainant’s letter in seven days.
The committee’s observations were incorporated in toto by the press council in its final ruling.
The respondent (editor-Pune) has now written to the chairman of the press council of india thanking him for accepting his contention that Mukesh Sarda has no locus. However, he sought a review of the PCI ruling stating that when Mukesh Sarda writes a letter, this should be regarded as a fresh case and that he can invoke Norm 23 only if the situated warranted then.
He submitted to the PCI that he feels aggrieved by the direction of the PCI to publish Mukesh Sarda’s letter even before he has received it and seen the contents.
(The letter from Mukesh Bharati, incidentally, has not come yet.)
The main point here is that Mukesh Sarda blatantly says that Osho Commune International is mythical.
Osho Commune: A Mythical Entity?
Indian Express Pune has been publishing articles about the happenings in and around the Commune. Many times the Commune thought of taking legal action against this newspaper. Finally it decided to complain to the Press Council of India.
Mukesh Sarda filed a complaint on behalf of the Neo-Sannyas Foundation Trust and not directly on behalf of the Commune and created a lot of confusion. What is even more interesting to note that the Commune is “not a legal entity. It is mythical.” And people like Ma yoga Neelam and Swami Chaitanya Keerti are legally banned from this mythical entity! And what does it mean when New York-based Osho International Foundation writes to National Arbitration Forum–“We also operate the Osho Commune International established in 1974 in Poona”…”and Swami Chaitanya Keerti is our former employee and press spokesperson”…? In Pune the Commune is not legal but mythical, and the same it becomes real in New York! Such deep and profound realization can only happen in total meditation!
Here I produce some relevant excerpts from the Press Council of India judgment. Please note that Indian Express is respondent in this case.
Swami Chaitanya Keerti