'State case had no basis' | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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'State case had no basis'

mumbai Updated: Jul 12, 2010 03:06 IST
Dharmendra Jore

The Maharashtra government's case against James Laine's controversial book on Shivaji in the Supreme Court had weakened because the state could not prove it hurt religious sentiments.

Sources in the Law and Judiciary department told Hindustan Times that the state's case did not have any basis like it had when books of authors like Salman Rushdie were banned.

"We couldn't prove that Shivaji's defamation amounted to hurting people's religious sentiments," said an officer from the department on the condition of anonymity.

The state government had banned Laine's book, Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India, in 2004 but the Supreme Court on Friday upheld the Bombay High Court's verdict that the ban be lifted with immediate effect.

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said, "As far as banning the book is concerned, we share strong sentiments with the Opposition. We will ensure that the book is not sold or circulated in the state." Chavan, however, did not have specific information on how the government planned to do that.

"We have formed a committee of the Advocate General and Secretaries of the Home and Law and Judiciary departments to take further legal action in the case," Chavan said.

The Maharashtra government has demanded that the Centre frame a law to enable states to ban books that defame any person, dead or alive, who is revered by the people.

The state's failure to get the book banned has triggered widespread violence.

Opposition parties boycotted the chief minister's customary tea party held on Sunday, the eve of the monsoon session of the state Legislature.

They demanded Law and Judiciary Minister Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil's resignation for the fiasco. Chavan said there was no merit in the Opposition's demand.

"But I will inquire deeply in this case and other cases (border dispute and Best-5) that we have lost in the courts."

Home Minister RR Patil, who was instrumental in banning two of Laine's books in two years, demanded a stringent law.

"We will request the Centre to frame a law for this. Nobody is going to accept derogatory remarks against any person of the stature of Shivaji Maharaj," he told journalists after the tea party.

An officer from the Law and Judiciary department said that the state had the option of filing a review petition in the Supreme Court.