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Updated: September 6, 2009 02:09 IST

Gujarat government mulls over fresh ban on Jaswant's book

Manas Dasgupta
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Jaswant Singh signs copies of his book
The Hindu Jaswant Singh signs copies of his book "Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence" at the Delhi Book Fair on August 29. Photo: V. Sudershan

It will still be about a week before the Gujarat government issues a fresh notification to re-impose the ban on the former BJP leader Jaswant Singh's controversial book on Mohammad Ali Jinnah, after the Gujarat High Court struck down its earlier notification to this effect on Friday.

The State cabinet spokesman and Health Minister Jaynarayan Vyas said on Saturday that the government was waiting for the official copy of the judgment of the three-judge larger Bench of the High Court, striking down the August 19 notification banning the publication, sale and distribution of the book in Gujarat .

However, some sources close to the State Home Department said the government was not sure whether it should at all issue another ban notification after the larger Bench passed strictures against the earlier one which it said the State issued "without applying its mind" and was therefore illegal and unlawful.

Wary of the Court's stand after a public interest litigation was filed challenging the constitutionality and validity of the August 19 notification, the Chief Minister's office had reportedly issued instructions to the Home Department to study the book carefully and mark out paragraphs to support the government's notification. But apparently it failed to do so before the larger Bench headed by Chief Justice K. S. Radhakrishnan.

"We have to be very careful in issuing another ban order to answer all the points raised by the High Court in the first notification," Mr. Vyas said.

Chief Minister Narendra Modi, while giving instructions to the State administration to issue the notification from Shimla, where he was attending a BJP conclave , wanted the ban to be imposed on grounds that the book painted a "historically wrong image" of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It questioned his patriotism and commitment to the cause of the nation.

No reference

The notification, however, made no reference to the Sardar and instead claimed that the book threatened public order and tranquillity in the State and was "against the interests of the State and the nation."

Official sources said another ban order at a later stage, after "carefully studying" all aspects of the larger Bench's judgment, might not serve any purpose as the book by then would find its way to many homes.

The owners of bookstores across Gujarat claimed that they had received many queries about the availability of the book soon after it was released on August 17, and again after the ban was lifted by the High Court . One in Ahmedabad said about 50 copies of the book were sold before the ban was imposed and the readers were demanding more copies . With the ban now lifted , the bookstores were making arrangements to bring more copies by Monday evening unless the government issued a fresh notification immediately.

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