Will James Laine emulate Dr.P.V.Narayana?

The Maharashtra Government’s SLP against the Bombay High Court’s order lifting the ban on James Laine’s bookShivaji: Hindu King of Islamic India’ came up for hearing before Justices Arijit Pasayat and P. Sathasivam on February 26. (State of Maharashtra &Ors. v. Sangharaj Damodar Rupawate & Ors. – SLP© 8931/2007).(See my earlier post which also carries links to the relevant judgments here)

At the hearing, Mr.Prashant Bhushan, counsel for the respondent (No.1) pointed out that in the name of protecting the image of Shivaji, large scale violence was unleashed resulting in the destruction of properties, valuable books and damage to persons and properties physically. He also pointed out that in view of the Supreme Court’s three Judge Bench’s decision in Manzar Sayeed Khan Vs. State of Mahrashtra on April 5, 2007, wherein the Court ordered the quashing of FIR against the printer and publisher of the book, there is no basis for the current SLP. It may be recalled that the Bombay High Court had lifted the ban on the book , precisely because it felt it was bound by the SC’s order in Manzar Sayeed Khan.

However, as happened in the case of the Kannada novel Dharmakaarana, the Supreme Court Bench proposed to the respondents that paras 2, 5, 7 and 8 of the Schedule (comprising the objectionable paragraphs in the Book) might be omitted to “serve the interest of justice”. In Dharmakaarana case,(read my previous post which includes the relevant links here) the author, Dr.P.V.Narayana refused to delete the passages in his book, considered to be objectionable, and won the esteem of the liberal India.

In this case, the author James Laine did not appear before the Supreme Court, despite notice being served on him. Therefore, the Supreme Court directed the Registry to issue a fresh notice to him along with the latest order, to respond to the Bench’s proposal within four weeks, as to whether he is agreeable to the suggestion for deletion of the four paragraphs, objected to by the chauvinists.

The Bench added that the suggestion for deletion would not in any way affect the merits of the issues involved which, they promised, would be examined in detail after James Laine (Respondent No.4) responds to the notice, and if necessity so arises. If so, what is the necessity to propose the deletion to the author, which could be interpreted as a surrender to the chauvinist elements which sought a ban on the book?

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1 comment
  • Thanks Venkatesan for bringing this to our attention. I wonder if the Court is right in suggesting deletion of paragraphs in the first place. Does it not go against the Court’s duty to decide the issues at hand? Is not the Court’s suggestion of deletion an indication of the Court being susceptible to populist pressure? If that is the case, how can the Court protect fundamental rights?