Circular on vetting literary works withdrawn following row

The State government has withdrawn a controversial circular of the General Education Department that require employees to submit a copy of literary works that they plan to publish for vetting by officials.

A row had broken out after it emerged that the circular dated September 9 required Deputy Directors of Education to scrutinise if the literary work was fit to be published and submit a report.

Only after getting approval could the works be published, the circular had said.

The circular contained directions to be followed for making recommendations when department employees submitted applications seeking permission to engage in artistic, literary, and cultural activities. As per the circular, the application had to be supported by an affidavit. The DDEs had to go through the application in detail and make recommendations.

However, the circular drew widespread criticism, with writers and other coming forward to allege a bid by the government to censor works and clamp down on artistic freedom.

K. Satchidanandan, poet, told The Hindu that in a democracy, it was absurd to have a rule that required screening of a literary work by an official who did not know anything about literature. Such a rule should either be resisted or the law amended. If the purpose was to vet any government criticism, the idea itself was undemocratic. Even if one were a government official, it did not mean one could not criticise the government. It was ironic that a government that was supposed to be resisting the anti-democratic rules of the Union government was enforcing such a rule, he said.

A statement from Minister for General Education V. Sivankutty said the circular was misinterpreted to suggest that the department was clamping down on artistic and literay endeavours. The circular had no such intention. There was no attempt to look into the creativity or quality of a work. It was only aimed at looking into the affidavit submitted along with the application as per Kerala Service Rules.

However, with confusion arising in the wake of the issuing of the circular, the circular was being withdrawn. There would be no attempt on the part of the government to curb the creative freedom of artistes, Mr. Sivankutty said in the statement.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 2:27:46 PM |

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