The Supreme Court on Friday dismissed the Maharashtra government’s plea to ban American author James W. Laine’s book Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, paving the way for its circulation in the state.
A bench headed by Justice D.K. Jain upheld a 2007 order of the Bombay High Court, which had quashed the ban. The order came on a petition filed by filmmaker Anand Patwardhan, advocate Sangharaj Damodar Rupawate and activist Kunda Pramila, besides the author and publisher.
The bench said the state did not follow the mandatory procedure while issuing the notification under Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for banning the book.
The court agreed with the argument that a ban under Section 95 could be issued only if clear grounds were made out that enmity was caused between distinct and identifiable groups and there was intention on the part of the author/filmmaker to cause such enmity.
Oxford University Press, New York and New Delhi, had published the book by Laine, a professor of religious studies, in 2003. The book was banned after several organisations and parties, including Shiv Sena, said it contained derogatory remarks against the Maratha warrior and could foment violence between communities.
The state lifted the ban in 2004 but proscribed it again in December 2006.