The Madras High Court has directed the State to lift its ban from the two Tamil books written by Mr. K. Senthil Mallar on the condition that the “provoking contents” in the books be altered or deleted.
"Under such circumstances, the impugned orders are liable to be set aside, provided that the petitioner complies with the references and bibliography as pointed out by the first respondent, in addition to delete the provoking contents calling for a fight for separate land and against other linguistic people and castes," a Full Bench of the Court comprising Justice M.M. Sundresh, Justice Pushpa Sathyanarayana and Justice R. Mahadevan directed.
The Petitions, filed by Mr. Mallar, concerned the books ‘Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru’ and ‘Venthar Kulathin Irupppidam Ethu?'. The Books had been banned by two Government orders under Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, which grants it the power to forfeit publications. Mr. Senthil's books were forfeited on the ground that their content was abusive and derogatory to people from different castes and communities.
Mr. Senthil had now sought lifting of the ban, relying on his Fundamental Right of Freedom of Speech and Expression as guaranteed by Article 19 of the Constitution of India. He had, further, contended that the books contained findings based on extensive research and hence, they shouldn't be banned as they were "nothing but expression of truth".
However, on a perusal of the impugned extracts, the Court opined that Mr. Senthil had, in fact, made derogatory comments against other communities and observed, "The petitioner, whose object is claimed to be to uplift the people of his caste, has lost his way in the middle and made provoking statements against many other communities, which are unwarranted, in the context and present day scenario. In the said process, he has also made allegations against deceased leaders and freedom fighters, which by itself is immoral. There cannot be any justification in lifting a community by demeaning other communities."
The Bench observed that there cannot be any justification in lifting a community by demeaning other communities.
"Coming from a land which gave us Poongunranar whose statement “Yadumoore Yavarumkelir” now displayed in United Nations Organisations, has now after several years of democratic rule flayed the erstwhile rulers, who defeated the Pandiyas and treated their descendants as migrants. The voice now pitched by the petitioner, according to us, is against Articles 19(1)(d) and (e) and 21 of the constitution of India. That apart, in the preface, the petitioner has called upon his community people to come together by horning their fighting skills to avenge their fall and fight, to retrieve their land lost to people of different castes and language and vouch for a separate country, indirectly, which again could amount to meddling with the sovereignty, public order and peace within the State. Under the shield of democracy and right to freedom of speech and expression, there cannot be any threat to the unity and public order. It would be very well within the right of the State to curb any such separatist ideologies to protect the sovereignty of the country and in the interest of the security of the State"
Further, Mr. Senthil's book, the Court opined, "is in the nature of provoking his community against others and challenging others on their superior social status". It also observed that the order was not arbitrary, as Section 95 does not make it necessary for the State to hear the author before forfeiting his publication.
“During the course of hearing, after perusal of the objectionable areas and the typed set of papers, it was pointed out to the petitioner that several portions in both the books are abusive against other castes and in the nature of spreading hatred and disharmony, thereby posing a threat to public order and security of the State. Thereafter, the petitioner has filed two separate memorandums, accepting to make certain alterations in the books. In reply, the State has raised objections to some alterations in certain portions, stating that the new alterations would not dissolve the objections. As most of the alterations have been accepted by the State, there cannot be any justification for the forfeiture to continue”.
The Bench, thereafter, directed the Petitioner to submit a representation reflecting the "corrections" suggested by it, after which, the State must pass orders lifting the forfeiture.