SC against culture of banning books, supports free flow of ideas

NEW DELHI: Disapproving of the culture of banning books, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it affected "free flow of ideas".

amansharma@tribunemail.com

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 2

Disapproving of the culture of banning books, the Supreme Court on Thursday said it affected "free flow of ideas".

"We cannot make a virtue of banning those to ban this. Literary work is amenable to criticism. The culture of banning books directly impacts flow of ideas unless it hits Section 292 of Indian Penal Code (obscenity). The characters are fictional in the book and we have to see the context in which the paras were mentioned," said a three-judge Bench headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra while hearing a petition seeking a ban on certain paragraphs of Malayalam novel 'Meesha'.

Delhi resident N Radhakrishnan has sought a direction to delete certain paragraphs of the novel by S Hareesh on the ground that it "defamed" temple going Hindu women. He particularly objected to a dialogue between two characters in the novel, which he contended, insulted Hindu women. He alleged the author's comments about Brahmins were tantamount to castiest slur.

The NDA Government and the Kerala government opposed the petition and freedom of speech and expression.

"Such kind of stuff should not be given undue importance in this age of the Internet. You are making this an issue. It is best forgotten," said Justice DY Chandrachud who was a part of the Bench.

Petitioner's counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan contended that books such as "Polyester Prince" and "Satanic Verses" were still banned.

A magazine published by a newspaper group had serialised the novel containing the objectionable portions but stopped it after protests.

While reserving its order on the petition, the court asked the newspaper to file the English translation in five days of what was published by it.

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