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SC lifts ban on James Laine's book on Shivaji

Press Trust Of India
Jul 09, 2010 at 06:35pm IST

New Delhi: All hurdles on the publication and circulation of controversial book -- "Shivaji - The Hindu King in Muslim India", came to an end with the Supreme Court on Friday refusing the plea of Maharashtra government to ban it.

The apex court upheld the decision of the Bombay High Court to lift the ban on the book by American author James Laine, which, according to the state government, contained material promoting social enmity.

A bench comprising Justices DK Jain and HL Dattu agreed with the High Court that the Maharashtra government did not follow the mandatory procedure while invoking the ban on the book.

SC lifts ban on James Laine's book on Shivaji

The court said that Maharashtra government did not follow the proper procedure while banning the book.

The state government had approached the apex court after the High Court had in 2007 lifted the ban on the book on the petition filed by advocate Sanghraj Rupawate, documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan and social activist Kunda Pramila.

The High Court, in its order, had said that the notification issued by the state government was not sustainable in the light of the apex court's order which had quashed criminal proceedings against Laine over allegations that the book promoted social enmity.

The state government had issued the ban on January 15, 2004 under section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code that empowers a state government to order ban on books if they contain any material that can lead to breach of peace and tranquility and cause communal tension.

Publication of such material is punishable under various sections of the IPC.

The book written by the Laine, a professor of religious studies, was published in 2003 by the Oxford University Press in New York and New Delhi.

It was banned by the state government after 150 cadres of the Sambhaji Brigade ransacked the office of Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute (BORI) in Pune and destroyed property on Januray 5, 2004.

The state government had withdrawn the notification on January 2004 but issued a similar one on December 28, 2006 which the petitioners in the case had challenged.

Reacting to the judgement Maharashtra Government said it favoured continuation of the ban on the controversial biography of Shivaji and was seeking legal opinion after the Supreme Court turned down its plea in this regard.

"I personally and the state government also, feel that the ban should continue.... We are seeking opinion of legal experts on approaching the court to ensure the ban continues," Maharashtra Home Minister RR Patil said in Mumbai.

"We are awaiting a detailed copy of the Supreme Court ruling on lifting the ban," Patil said.

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