Injunctions, defamation suits emerge as new weapons against authors, publishers (Part-I)
A biography that traces Baba Ramdev's rise from godman to tycoon has been caught up in a legal storm for over 11 months; Amish Tripathi's upcoming book has been served a legal notice and its launch postponed; a nonfiction account on Bastar by Nandini Sundar came under pressure from a state government; and a critical book on the 2002 Gujarat riots by Rana Ayyub could not find a publisher.
 
Those who disseminate ideas through books have had their share of political coercion. "As a publisher I find that I have faced pressure and censorship across all political regimes," says Chiki Sarkar, publisher of Juggernaut Books.
 
But now, an insidious method of going against authors and publishers has emerged -- of causing delays through the courts. The fear of legal suits and defamation charges has assumed such proportions that it has led to rejections and self-censorship among publishers, industry insiders say.
 
In a series of interviews with key people holding top portfolios in some of India's most prominent publishing houses, IANS ran a reality check on whether or not they have faced issues like self-censorship or pressure from political groups or legal action during the four years of the Narendra Modi government.
 
"There has only been a few legal cases in the court, but we have not faced any political pressure," says Kapish Mehra, Managing Director of Rupa Books.
 
What emerges from these discussions is that political pressures on publishing houses is not "a new phenomenon" -- both parties, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress have practiced it. But the legal threat as a weapon to thwart public discourse through books has assumed menacing proportions. 
 
Recently, writer Amish Tripathi was served a legal notice for his latest book "Suheldev & The Battle of Bahraich". Tripathi announced the postponement of the July 16 launch "due to some circumstances beyond our control". Earlier, pre-orders were being booked.
 
The announcement of the book was made at Sonali Bendre's Book Club in Mumbai and the cover was launched by actor Varun Dhawan, who too has been sent a legal notice.
 
The book is said to revolve around Raja Suheldev, a semi-legendary Indian king from Shravasti in Uttar Pradesh. In the legal notice sent on June 25, a copy of which IANS has, the sender has accused the author and bollywood actor Varun Dhawan, of hurting "his and his communities' sentiments".
 
"Raja Suheldev is a godly figure among the Rajbhar community. I have received several messages and complaints from members of our community that Amish Tripathi has hurt their sentiments," Jaiprakash Rajbhar, who sent the notice, told IANS over phone from Mumbai.
 
Rajbhar, an advocate, said that Uttar Pradesh text books for Class VI clearly point out that Suheldev was from the Rajbhar community. "The author has referred to him as somebody from "other caste". This is a historical blunder," he said.
 
"Moreover, the cover of the book shows Suheldev half naked. A king who is fighting a battle and riding a horse could not afford a piece of cloth to cover his body?" he asked.
 
On such grounds are objections to work of great artistes being raised. Tripathi and publisher Westland have declined comment on the issue.
 
Tripathi is a writer of fame and repute. With gross retail sales of Rs 120 crores, his novels include "The Immortals of Meluha", "The Secret of the Nagas", "The Oath of the Vayuputras", "Ram: Scion of Ikshvaku" and "Sita: Warrior of Mithila".
 
Sarkar, who started her publishing career at Bloomsbury in London, then worked at Penguin Books India and rose to become India publishing head after Penguin's merger with Random House, said that Juggernaut has published many politically brave books -- "I am a Troll", "Shadow Armies","The Burning Forest" and "Mothering a Muslim".
 
"But the book we have run into the biggest legal trouble over -- the biography of Baba Ramdev -- is a non-political book," Sarkar told IANS.
 
The publication and sale of "Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev", authored by Priyanka Pathak-Narain, has been stayed by the Delhi High Court, after a lower court had lifted a similar order earlier.
 
According to Baba Ramdev's petition, the book mentions some details from his past that are "irresponsible, false (and) malicious". Certain content, Ramdev's petition said, "had been added without evidence and verification".
 
Juggernaut said in its appeal that the book was "truthful, even-handed and balanced consideration of the history of Baba Ramdev, which has been meticulously researched and is based on public and recorded sources, most of which have been in the public domain for years".
 
It all began on August 4, 2017 when in an ex-parte order, the Additional Civil Judge at the District Courts of Karkardooma in Delhi asked Juggernaut not to publish or sell the book. The injunction was lifted nine months later in April 2018.
 
But the freedom was not to last too long. In May 2018, the Delhi High Court restored the temporary injunction. Ramdev's lawyer had told the court that certain parts of the book were "unfounded and had misleading material which are malicious and scandalous".
 
Pathak-Narain, the author had told the court that the contents of the book represented "only reported true facts as gleaned from publicly available documents and contains legitimate and reasonable surmises and conclusions drawn therefrom".
 
The next hearing in the case is in August. "We will fight it out up till the Supreme Court, if need be," says Sarkar.
 
"The Burning Forest: India's War in Bastar" by Nandini Sundar, professor of sociology at Delhi University, who has been writing about Bastar and its people for 26 years, faced covert pressure from the state government to not publish or distribute the book. She chronicled how the armed conflict between the government and the Maoists had devastated the lives of some of India's poorest, most vulnerable citizens in Bastar.
 
Fear of legal cases or political pressure often lead to publishers exercising their own version of self-censorship. Journalist Rana Ayyub, who was lately in the news for facing hate and threat messages on social media, could not find a mainstream publisher for her book "Gujarat Files", an undercover expose of the 2002 riots in the state that claimed the lives of over 1,000 Muslims. She ended up publishing it herself. Ayyub, in a text message from London, expressed her unavailability to respond at present.
 
Industry insiders say that "legal suits, defamations proceedings and temporary injunctions" were their greatest fear. Injunctions can kill the fate of any book. They say that in eight out of ten cases, where a book can potentially be stayed by a court, mainstream publishers would avoid publishing it -- or at least tell the author to remove content or "tone down" portions which are "objectionable".
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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COMMENTS

Ramesh Poapt

5 months ago

good one!

Deepak Narain

5 months ago

The objected statements in a book should be double-checked and if the author and publisher so certify before a court , the book in question should be permitted to be published. If the offended party is not satisfied, they should formally fight the case in a court as per law. Ramdev is so much after name, fame and money that he should be forbidden from using prefixes like Swami, Baba, etc before his name.

Government leaves it to SC's wisdom to decriminalize gay sex

The centre Wednesday said it was leaving it to the wisdom of the Supreme Court to decide if a law that criminalizes consensual gay sex was constitutionally valid.

On the second day of the Supreme Court hearing on the plea challenging the constitutional validity of Indian Penal Code's Section 377 that criminalises homosexuality, the Centre did not spell out its stand one way or the other
 
However, it urged the five-judge constitution bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman, A.M. Khanwilkar, D.Y. Chandrachud and Indu Malhotra that they should confine to deciding the challenge to the law without any scope that may give rise to LGBT community claiming civil rights including right to property, inheritance marriage, adoption and other rights.
 
"What ever may not be in question may not be decided," Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court expressing the apprehension of the Centre.
 
He told the court that if it intended to touch on other issues like same sex marriage, then the Centre will file another detailed affidavit.
 
Airing the government's concerns, Mehta referred to Justice Chandrachud's observation made during the course of the hearing on Tuesday that in Hadiya judgement, that "we have already decided that the right to choose partner is a fundamental right".
 
Clarifying his observation, Justice Chandrachud said they were not going to decide "kinky issues".
 
"We are (debating) on whether the relationship between two adults is itself a manifestation of Article 21 of the Constitution," he said.
 
"We don't want a situation when two gays enjoying a walk on Marine Drive should be disturbed by police and charged under Section 377 IPC," he said. 
 
Chief Justice Misra said: "We will decide whether consensual sex between two consenting adults is a crime or not."
 
Dispelling the apprehensions of the Centre, he said: "We can't judge an issue in vacuum" thereby telling Mehta that the issue of other rights of LGBT community was not before the bench.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Mumbai received highest rainfall on Tuesday: IMD
The country's financial capital received the highest rainfall on Tuesday, while half a dozen districts went completely dry, as per the district-wise data of Maharashtra released on Wednesday by the IMD.
 
The Mumbai suburbs were clobbered with 184.3 mm rainfall, against the normal of 19.4 mm, which was 850 per cent higher.
 
Mumbai city followed closely behind with 165.8 mm rains on Tuesday against the normal of 17.8 mm, or 831 per cent higher.
 
Despite these high rainfall figures, Mumbai hobbled on without any major breakdown in the suburban trains, road transportation or flight services though many areas were waterlogged, and most schools and colleges were closed.
 
The IMD list put adjoining Raigad next, with a rainfall of 124.4 against the normal of 33.2, or 275 per cent higher.
 
Palghar -- with at least two deaths and heavy flooding in various parts which threw the entire Western Railway suburban and long-distance services out of gear, actually recorded 100.1 mm rainfall, against the normal of 32.3 mm or 210 per cent higher -- which was much lower than adjoining Mumbai.
 
Thane, which witnessed heavy dislocation came third, with 94.7 mm rains against the average normal of 31.6 mm, or 200 per cent higher.
 
Other districts that notched appreciable rains are: Gadchiroli 45.8 mm, Yavatmal 40.3 mm and Ratnagiri 36.2 mm, the IMD said.
 
While Ahmednagar, Dhule, Nandurbar, Aurangabad, Jalna, Osmanabad remained dry with zero rains.
 
The lowest rains were recorded in Parbhani 0.1 mm, Beed and Latur with 0.5 mm each, Sangli 1.0 mm, Nashik 1.2 mm, Solapur 1.3 mm, and Hingoli with 1.8 mm.
 
After the rains halted and the flood-waters receded overnight, Mumbai limped back to normalcy after a four-day fury that hit the commuters, railways, road transport and flight operations.
 
A WR official said that long-distance and suburban services on the Virar-Vasai sector, which had completely collapsed on Tuesday, resumed with speed restrictions, though the tracks continued to be waterlogged.
 
Mumbai city and adjoining districts also returned to normal vibrancy though roads were jammed with traffic especially the two highways slicing vertically through Mumbai.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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