Wednesday, September 19, 2001, Chandigarh, India


M A I N   N E W S

HC nod to Khushwant’s autobiography
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, September 18
Octogenarian writer Khushwant Singh was “delighted” today following the Delhi High Court verdict allowing the publication of his autobiography ‘Truth, Love and A Little Malice’ after a gap of six years.

“The court’s verdict is a vindication of the writer’s freedom,” Khushwant Singh told The Tribune moments after the Division Bench upheld the publication of the autobiography written by the versatile writer six years ago.

The court, vacating the stay, asked the petitioner Union Minister Maneka Gandhi to pay Rs 10,000 as litigation cost to Khushwant Singh.

Objecting to some of the contents published as excerpts in the yet to be released autobiography, Ms Gandhi had moved the court.

The chapter on which she had objections related to the period when the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, had expelled her daughter-in-law Maneka Gandhi from the house.

Khushwant Singh said, “It was Maneka Gandhi who gave me details with ‘mirch masala’ of the exchange of abuse that took place between her sister Ambika and Indira Gandhi.” Her sister was staying with them at that time.

Asked whether she provided the information in confidence, Khushwant Singh said, “She wanted every little detail to be published.”

“What is there in those chapters has already been published in Pupul Jayakar’s biography. Only additional thing is the ‘mirch masala’ she provided,” Khushwant Singh said.

Ms Gandhi was asked to vacate Indira Gandhi’s home on a wintry night within few months of the death of Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash in 1980.

The excerpts from the chapter said, “Maneka had told me how Indira Gandhi had favoured Sonia at her expense and given many things belonging to Panditji, including a watch and a pen, to her foreign daugther-in-law rather than to the Indian. I have little doubt that Sonia was the more favoured daughter-in-law, just as Sanjay was the more favoured son. Now that Sanjay was gone, Indira Gandhi had no choice except to lean on her only remaining child. She had no great affection for Maneka and resented Amteshwar’s bossiness. It did not take long for this feeling to turn into unconcealed hostility.”

“Indira Gandhi became more and more irritated by Maneka’s presence and found faults with everything she did. She told me that Maneka had been rude to people who came to express their condolences.”

“At a formal banquet given in honour of Ms Margaret Thatcher, while Rajiv and Sonia were seated on the main table with the chief guest, Maneka was relegated to the table meant for the staff along with R.K. Dhawan, Indira Gandhi’s personal secretary. She was told that she was a distraction and had no table manners. One day, Indira Gandhi sent for me and asked me to speak to Maneka to behave. When I spoke to Maneka, she complained of being treated like dirt and referred to Indira Gandhi as “an old bag”.

The two-judge bench comprising Devinder Gupta and S.K. Kaul observed that the right to privacy enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution could be invoked only against the government and state action and not against private individual.

The remedy lay through action in law of tort after the document was made public and not before, the court observed.Back

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