The Calcutta High Court, in response to a public interest litigation petition, refused on Friday to issue any order prohibiting the publication and sale of two books critical of the Trinamool Congress-led government’s policies for minorities.
There was a controversy surrounding one of the books, Musalmander Koronio (What Muslims should do) last week when its publishers alleged that the police had raided their premises in search of copies of the book. The police, they said, had threatened them and directed them not to reprint the book.
The other book referred to in the PIL plea is Musalmander Unnatir Janya Ki Karte Hobe (What Muslims should do for their progress). Both are written by Nazrul Islam, Additional Director General (Training) of the State police.
“It is the State government that can ban a book. Why are you [petitioner] coming to us for it?,” the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J.N. Patel and Justice Jaymalya Bagchi observed, according to Arunava Ghosh, counsel for the publishers.
The Court instead directed the petitioner to serve notice to the publishers, State government and the author of the book.
The petitioner, Mr. Ali, son of Idris Ali — chairperson of Trinamool Congress Minority Cell — alleged that the books were published with “the intent to damage communal harmony prevailing in West Bengal.”
On Thursday, representatives of the publishers approached the West Bengal Human Rights Commission alleging harassment and threats by officers of the Enforcement Branch of the city police. The police, they said, were trying to stall the publication and sale of the book Musalmander Koronio.
“On the basis of the complaint lodged by the publishers, the WBHRC directed the Commissioner of the city police to probe the matter. The probe should be conducted by a senior and responsible police officer and the report submitted before the Commission within two weeks,” Sujay Kumar Halder, Joint Secretary of the Commission told The Hindu.