Maha explores legal options to ban Laine's book on Shivaji

Last Updated 11 July 2010, 16:29 IST

"At no cost, there should be printing and circulation of the book in the state," Chief Minister Ashok Chavan told reporters here.
The apex court had on July 9 rejected Maharashtra Government's plea to ban the book titled 'Shivaji-The Hindu King in Muslim India', clearing the way for its publication and circulation.

The Supreme Court had upheld the decision of the Bombay High Court to lift the ban on the book. The State government had contended that the book contained material promoting social enmity.
The Chief Minister said his government shared the strong sentiments of the people of the state over the "objectionable" references made to the legendary Maratha king in the book.

Home Minister R R Patil said the state government would write to the Centre recommending a stringent Act to stop defamatory writings against iconic figures.
"Since, the apex court has given its verdict of lifting of the ban, the state has decided to proceed legally in this matter. The committee comprising Advocate General, Law Secretary and Additional Chief Secretary (ACS) Home will explore legal options and advise the government accordingly," Chavan said.
Patil said the committee will give its views on the matter in two days. "The Centre has to enact such a legislation. The state government would write to the Centre recommending a stringent act," he added.

On whether action will be taken against historians in the state especially in Pune for providing defamatory information about Chhatrapati Shivaji, Patil said police had questioned the historians mentioned in the book by Laine and all of them had categorically denied that they had provided any such information.
Shiv Sena, Maharashtra Navnirman Sena and various other organisations have said that they shall not allow anybody to sell the book in the state.

The state government had approached the apex court after the High Court had in 2007 lifted the ban on the book on a 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.

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.

(Published 11 July 2010, 16:29 IST)

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