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Exercise caution in banning books: SC

delhi Updated: Jul 12, 2010 21:29 IST

The Supreme Court has held that banning a book/publication was a "drastic" power vested in the government and should be exercised cautiously lest it violates the "right of privacy" and Constitutional guarantee of freedom of speech and expression.

Dismissing Maharashtra government's appeal challenging the Bombay High Court's decision to quash the ban and confiscation of the controversial book -- Shivaji - The Hindu King in Muslim India, the apex court said the ban on notification failed to clearly spell out the so-called enmity it could provoke between the communities/people as claimed by the authorities.

"Undoubtedly, the power to forfeit a newspaper, book or document is a drastic power inasmuch as it not only has a direct impact upon the due exercise of a cherished right of freedom of speech and expression as envisaged in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution," it also clothes a police officer to seize the infringing copies of the book, document or newspaper and to search places where they are reasonably suspected to be found, again impinging upon the right of privacy.