India captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni has been issued a non-bailable warrant by a local court in Anantpur, Andhra Pradesh in relation to a magazine cover in April, 2013 that depicted him as Lord Vishnu.
The magazine cover, for a story titled 'God of Big Deals', had an image of Dhoni morphed as the Hindu deity Vishnu, displaying various commercial brands, like 'Lays chips', and also holding a shoe in his hands.
The court has asked Dhoni to appear before it before 25 February. India are currently touring Australia until January 31 for an ODI and T20I series, after which Dhoni's men are hosting Sri Lanka for three T20s and also travel to Bangladesh for Asia Cup T20. The events are the lead up to the World T20 scheduled to start in March.
The current warrant is for a petition filed by Y Shyam Sundar of the VHP who has got the court in Anantapur to issue a “warrant of appearance” against Dhoni.
Dhoni has been accused of ignoring summons from the local court here, an allegation that the star cricketer's lawyer Rajneesh Chopra denied on Friday.
Chopra insisted that the Non Bailable Warrant issued against the wicketkeeper-batsman was "erroneous".
"Mahendra Singh Dhoni has utmost respect for the judiciary but the fact of the matter is that he has personally never received any summons with respect to the present case; therefore the order appears to be erroneous," Dhoni's lawyer Chopra said in a statement issued by Rhiti Sports, the company managing Dhoni.
"Even as such, proceedings in a similar matter pending before the Hon'ble District Court of Bengaluru, Karnataka has already been stayed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India. In this matter, accordingly we will approach the courts and seek appropriate directions thereto," he added
"Neither did he pose for the picture, nor were we aware of such a picture being published," Arun Pandey, Dhoni's manager, told ESPNcricinfo.
In May 2013, Jayakumar Hiremath, a RTI activist filed a case in Bangalore under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code – intent to insult the religion of any class – for “hurting the sentiments of the Hindu community”.
In May 2014, Rajinder Singh Raja, national general secretary of the Shivesena Hindustan filed a case in Delhi saying Dhoni had insulted the Hindu religion and Lord Vishnu because he had “been portrayed as God Vishnu and instead of showing religious things, the magazine is showing products of various companies including a shoe in his hand.”
With agency inputs