Expelled BJP Member of Parliament Jaswant Singh on Friday moved the Supreme Court challenging the Gujarat Government’s order banning his book ‘Jinnah — India, Partition, Independence.’
In his writ petition, Mr. Singh along with the publisher, Rupa and Co. said that his book was released on the evening of August 17 and this was published in various newspapers the next day. On August 19, the Gujarat government issued a notification banning the book. The order said “the contents of the book are highly objectionable and against the national interest; the Government of Gujarat is of the opinion that the contents of the book are misleading to the public and are against the tranquillity of the public and against the interests of the State and the book must be forfeited and prohibited in the interest of the State.”
Curbs Freedom of speech
The petition said the right to freedom of speech and expression as guaranteed under Article 19 (1) (a) had been taken away by this order which was passed hastily and arbitrarily. The notification “ex-facie and per se infringes the fundamental right of the petitioner and is not justified under Section 95 of the Cr.P.C., especially since it does not set out the matter which is allegedly punishable under Section 153 A and 153 B of the IPC nor the grounds of the State government’s notification.”
It said the ban was put on the book without caring to go through its contents. The notification “does not refer to any passage or excerpt in the book which, according to the State government is objectionable or misleading to the public or against the interest of the state and/or against tranquillity of the public.”
It said the book pertaining to the partition era included appendices which reflected in-depth research on the subject as well as support the commentary and thesis on the role of Jinnah in the partition of India and it took five years for the first petitioner to complete the book. It had been published and was intended to be circulated throughout India and any impediment to its distribution and circulation in one State would constitute an infringement of his fundamental right. It sought a direction to quash the notification and a direction to prohibit the Gujarat government from seizing or forfeiting the book or copies thereof.