Delhi HC suspends website claiming to deliver ‘Ram Temple prasad for free’

The website, Khadi Oganic, was attempting to monopolise the event by preying on the public’s religious beliefs and devotion, the high court said

New Delhi: Ahead of the Ram Temple inauguration in Ayodhya, the Delhi high court has suspended ‘Khadi Organic’, a website that claims to deliver “Ram Mandir prasad for free”, following the consecration event, people familiar with the matter said on Sunday.

The website was attempting to monopolise the event by preying on the public’s religious beliefs and devotion, the high court said

Though the website claimed to deliver the prasad for free, but demanded Rs.51 from Indian customers and USD 11 from foreign customers as a “delivery charge” and was also seeking donations from the public to facilitate the initiative, said the people mentioned above.

The court’s suspension order came on January 18 while dealing with the lawsuit filed by Khadi and Village Industries Commission, a registered proprietor of the trademarks ‘Khadi’ and ‘Khadi India’, which stated that Khadi Organic was perpetrating fraud on the public by creating a false association with the commission’s trademark ‘Khadi’ and openly promoting their website as “official website for the sale of Ayodhya Ram Mandir prasad”.

The order was made public on Saturday.

The suit filed through advocate Shwetasree Majumder also stated that the owners of the rogue website could not misappropriate the ‘Khadi’ mark and render a false impression that ‘Khadi’ and ‘Village Industries Commission’, were affiliated with the Shri Rambhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust, which is organising the consecration ceremony.

The commission had further stated that the Khadi Organic’s owner, Ashish Singh, in the wake of several customers calling the website a scam, had hosted a live question and answer session on its YouTube channel wherein he clarified that the distribution of ‘so-called prasad’ was a private initiative and was not being overseen by Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust. Singh in the session had also stated that the website till January 14, had received orders of nearly Rs.20 lakh.

The court was of the view that the website was deceiving customers into transferring money by using Khadi and Village Industries Commission’s goodwill and was obtaining money falsely without providing a confirmation receipt or proof of dispatch.

It also restrained the owners of Khadi Organic from manufacturing, selling, exporting, or advertising, any kind of goods including garments, collectables, food items, home temples, Gangajal and services under the marks ‘Khadi Organic’ observing that the same were deceptively similar to the commission’s Khadi mark.

“The links to the videos posted by disgruntled consumers annexed with the plaint further indicate that Defendants No. 1 and 2 have falsely obtained money from the members of the public without providing a confirmation receipt or proof of dispatch. Defendant No. 3 ( Squarespace Domains II LLC) shall suspend the operation of the domain name/ website “www.khadiorganic.com” registered by them and shall also maintain status quo with regards to the ownership of the said domain name,” justice Sanjeev Narula said in the order made public on Saturday.

The judge while issuing notice in the suit, remarked that the Village Industries Commission had prima facie made a case in their favour and would suffer an irreparable loss in case the interim injunction is not granted.

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