A Muzaffarpur court on Wednesday ordered for the issue of notice to Congress president Sonia Gandhi on a petition alleging that that she had hurt the religious sentiment of Hindus by her alleged portrayal as 'Goddess Durga' in a poster at the party's Muradabad office in Uttar Pradesh.
Fast-track court Judge Vijay Kumar Mandal ordered the issue of the notice to her after hearing the complaint by an advocate Sudhir Ojha.
An advocate on behalf of Sonia would be allowed to present her side on May 22 failing which the court would be free to take an ex-parte decision, Mandal directed.
The court also issued notices to Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president and Muradabad district Congress Committee president asking them to explain their position either in person or through lawyers on May 22, the day fixed by it as the next date of hearing.
District Judge H K Srivastava had on March 25 admitted the complaint filed by Ojha against Sonia and others.
The charges were made under three Sections of IPC: Sections 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 295 (A) (deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and 120 (b) (criminal conspiracy).
After admitting the petition on March 25, Srivastava had transferred it to fast-track Judge V K Mandal for initiating legal proceedings.
Earlier on December 1, 2007, a magistrate had dismissed Ojha's petition that prompted the lawyer to move the court of the district judge on December 11, 2007.
Ojha, in his complaint, alleged the Muradabad district Congress president in league with UP Congress Committee chief had put up the poster on the wall of the party's Muradabad office on June 21, 2007.
Sonia criminally conspired with them in the exercise, he charged.
The poster with Sonia as 'Durga' was beamed by television channels and photographs appeared in several newspapers hurting the sentiments of Hindus, he alleged.