The Supreme Court on Wednesday refused to humour a plea to delete certain portions of Malayalam novel Meesha he perceived to be derogatory to temple-going Hindu women.
Dismissing the petition, a three-judge Bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said the fundamental right of an author to freely express oneself cannot be held hostage to the vagaries of subjective perceptions of random persons.
The petitioner called himself a “proud Hindu,” who said the “offending parts” of the novel by S. Hareesh insulted Brahmin priests in temples and amounted to a “casteist/racist slur.”
“Dialogue demeans womanhood”
Petitioner N. Radhakrishnan, a resident of Delhi, highlighted that the offensive part was a conversation between two characters. The dialogue demeaned womanhood and treated women as “sex objects,” he claimed.
He said it could even become a “trigger for mob violence.”
The court said banning of books choked the free flow of ideas. Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, on the Bench, said it could not make a virtue of banning literary works.
“You are giving undue importance to this kind of stuff. In the age of the Internet, you are making this an issue. It is best forgotten,” said Justice Chandrachud.
The novel was published in Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi .
The petition had accused the State of Kerala of inaction. It said that some political leaders of the State “who are usually for banning even intellectual writings of Salman Rushdie or Taslima Nasreen, and those who prevented them from attending even a literary festival, have been up in arms in support of the writer, only to trample upon the religious sentiments of majority of peace-loving but religious Hindus.”