To many cricket fans cricket is no less than a religion. And to many of such passionate fans Mahendra Singh Dhoni is no less than a God. However, when “Captain Cool” was featured as a deity on the cover of Business Today some people were not amused.
In 2013, Business Today featured Dhoni on the cover of its April issue, with a report on the brand value of the sportsman titled “God of Big Deals”. The cricketer was depicted as Lord Vishnu, holding different products endorsed by him, including a packet of Lays potato chips, Boost, a bottle of Pepsi and even a sports shoe. In a country like ours, where religion is taken very seriously, the cover was bound to ruffle a few feathers. Hence, a case was filed in Anantapur, by a Vishwa Hindu Parishad leader Yerraguntla Shyamsundar, against Dhoni alleging him for hurting religious feelings by posing as a Hindu deity.
A non-bailable warrant has been issued against Dhoni by an Andra Pradesh Court accusing the sports figure of his degenerating actions against the Hindu God Lord Vishnu. Apparently, according to the legal representatives of the petitioner Yerraguntla Shyamsundar, summons were issued not only to Dhoni but also to the editor of Business Today, Chaitanya Kalbag. Though it is unclear whether Mr. Kalbag received the summons, the advocate for the petitioner stated that an acknowledgement was received from Dhoni’s side. He further stated that due to Dhoni’s blatant disregard of the summons issued by the Court, the Court was forced to take serious action against the former, resulting in the non-bailable arrest warrant.
On the other hand, Dhoni’s manager stated that Dhoni never received any summons and therefore the warrant issued by the Court is erroneous. Dhoni has been asked to be present in Court on the 25th of February.
This is not the first time the magazine cover has gotten Dhoni into trouble. In 2013, a similar suit was filed against Dhoni by social activist Jayakumar Hiremath in the Karnataka High Court. The suit was filed under Section 295 of the Indian Penal Code, for intent to insult the religion of any class. The High Court commented that celebrities usually sign advertising deals to make a quick buck, without contemplating the repercussions of their action. The Court further, refused to quash the suit, making Dhoni approach the apex court, where the matter was stayed.
In 2014 too, a suit was filed in Delhi against Dhoni, on the same grounds. Hopefully this year the matter will be put to rest, once and for all.