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Censorship

Over the years India has seen various books being banned for several reasons, ranging from defamation to offending religious sentiments of a community. The law commonly used to ban books/ prevent sale and production of certain books is Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which confers powers on the State Government to ban a book if a book contains content that may “promote, or attempt to promote, enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, or disharmony, or feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious groups and the publication of such matters is punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code.” Section 153A of IPC provides punishments for acts which promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, among others.

We have curated a list that contains books that have been banned in India since independence of India, the data for which has been gathered from secondary sources mainly. A lot of times, instances of censorship and banned books are not reported by the media, and therefore we are creating a citizen reporting mechanism.

Write to us at mail@sflc.in or send us a DM on our twitter handle (@SFLCin) if you come across any book that has been banned in India.

S.No.Name of the bookAuthorYearStateDescription
1Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba RamdevPriyanka Pathak2017NationwideIt was banned on the ground that it was extremely defamatory in nature for the protagonist.
2.MadhorubhaganPerumal MuruganPreviously banned,currently available on E-Commerce websites.NationwideIt was alleged that the book contained materials that hurts the sentiments of the community, defamed women and outraged religious feelings. Subsequently after several protests, the author withdrew all the unsold copies of this novel. Petition were filed in the Madras High Court in order to ban the book but the petition was dismissed and book didn’t got banned.1

3KorkoiJoe D’Cruz

2015

Nationwide

4Sahara: The Untold Story

Tamal Bandyopadhyay

2014

Nationwide

A stay order was ordered on the release of this book by the Calcutta High Court. Though the book was released, but with a disclaimer given by Sahara.

5The Descent of Air India
Jitendra Bhargava

2014

Nationwide

The author who worked for almost two decades with Air India brings out his insider view about the ground reality of the company. All the book was withdrawn later on by the publisher because of defamation charges.

6Santsurya Tukaram and Loksakha Dnyaneshwar

Anand Yadav

2014


Nationwide

A magistrate in Pune ordered to destroy the copies of these two novels which is based on the lives of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram. It was alleged that the contents of these novels were defamatory.2

7The Hindus: An Alternative History

Wendy Doniger

2014

Nationwide

The book was withdrawn from the Indian market, prompting widespread concerns about the state of free speech in India. But after a period of twelve months, the book was republished under a different publisher.

8DhundiYogesh Master

2013

Nationwide

Several Hindu organisations protested against this book and accused it to contain objectionable materials against god Ganesha.

9Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru

K. Senthil Mallar

2013

Tamil Nadu

It was alleged that certain contents in this book was abusive against other castes and in the nature of spreading hatred and disharmony. SO, the Madras HC ordered to make alterations in the book and lifted the forfeiture.3

10Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India

Joseph Lelyveld

2011

Gujarat

It was interpreted and suggested in this biographical book that M.K. Gandhi was bisexual. Whereas according to the author the book only says that he was deeply attached to Kallenbach and did not explicitly stated that Gandhi was bisexual.4

11The Red Sari

Javier Moro

2010

NationwideOriginally published in Spanish by the name ‘El Sari Rojo’, this book was alleged to be violating the privacy of a person for monetary gain. However, it was released in India in Jan, 2015 as it was not officially banned.

12Such a Long Journey

Rohinton Mistry

2010

Mumbai

Withdrawn by the Mumbai University from its Bachelor of Art (English) syllabus. The book allegedly contained anti-Shiv Sena passages and remarks derogatory to Maharastrians.5

13Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence
Jaswant Singh

2009
Gujarat
Banned for containing defamatory references to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.6

14The Life of Sri Aurobindo

Peter Heehs

2008

Nationwide

It was alleged that the book contains objectionable matters depicting distorted facts about the life and character of Sri Aurobindo. In 2004, a stay order was passed by the Odisha High Court on the release of the book.

15Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion

R.V. Bhasin

2007MaharashtraSC upheld the ban and said that the author had used insulting comments on Muslim community, which is an aggravated form of criticism and can hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.7

16The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown

2006Nagaland

It was alleged that the novel could hurt the sentiments of the Christian beliefs. Ban was rejected by SC and several HCs .

17The True Furqan

Al Saffee & Al Mahdee

2005

Nationwide

Islamic groups declared the book as a Christian propaganda and claimed that it slyly mocked at Islam. Some even claimed it was a US-Israel pact to insult Islam.
Though it was essentially a Christian world versus Islam phenomenon, the Indian government took exception to it and banned its import.
18Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India

James Laine
2004
Maharashtra

In 2004, this book was banned as it contained disparaging remarks about Chhatrapati Shivaji. But the ban was lifted in 2010 by the Supreme Court.9

19Lajja

Tasleema Nasreen

2003

West Bengal

Banned by the West Bengal government.10

20Dwikhandito
Taslima Nasreen


2003

West Bengal

Banned for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community. On 22nd September, 2005, the Calcutta High Court lifted the ban.11

21Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro

2002

Nationwide

The book was banned after Swaraj Puri, the commissioner of Bhopal during that period, filed a defamation suit. Later, the ban was lifted by the Madhya Pradesh high court.12

22Bhavsagar Granth

Written by amost 30 authors under the direction of Baba Bhaniara

2001

Punjab

Banned by the Punjab government for hurting the religious feelings of Sikh community.13

23The Myth of the Holy Cow

Dwijendra Narayan Jha

2001NationwideThe book allegedly said that beef was eaten by ancient Indians. The author received anonymous threat calls and had to be provided a police escort.14

24Towards Freedom

Sumit Sarkar and K.N. Panikkar

2000

Nationwide

The publication of this book was temporarily withheld by the ICHR in 2000 because it portrayed Hindu Maha sabha in a bad light.

25The Moor’s Last Sigh

Salman Rushdie

1995

Nationwide

The Indian government placed a de facto ban on the novel, claiming that the fictional Ramar Fielding seemed to be a thinly veiled version of Bal Thackeray, one of India’s most prominent Hindu nationalist politicians. But later in 1996, the ban was lifted by the Supreme Court.15

26Understanding Islam through Hadis

Ram Swarup

1991

Nationwide

It tackles the issues of political Islam. It was claimed that the book was offensive to Muslims.16

27Basava Vachana Deepti

Mate Mahadevi

1997

Nationwide

It was banned because she changed Basavanna’s pen name from ‘Kudalasangama Deva’ to ‘Linga Deva’.17

28Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada

Zuhair Kashmeri & Brian McAndrew

1989

Nationwide

The authors argue that Indian intelligence agencies, determined to discredit the Sikh bid for an independent state, penetrated not only Sikh communities but also the RCMP and CSIS. The book claims the government of India was involved in the plane’s bombing.18

29The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani

Hamish McDonald

1988

Mumbai

Unofficial biography of late Dhirubhai Ambani. Banned for being slanderous against the Ambani family. Never got published in India.19

30The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie

1988Nationwide

Banned by Rajiv Gandhi’s government.

31Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim

Sunanda K. Dattaray

1984





Nationwide
The book dealt with India’s annexation of Sikkim. The Delhi High Court had stopped its publication after a political officer station in Gangtok at the time filed a defamation suit. The book was later allowed for release.20
32The Price of Power: Kissinger and Nixon in the White House

Seymour Hersh

1983

Nationwide

Banned for suggesting that Morarji Desai was a CIA informant.21

33Who Killed Gandhi

Lourenco De Sadvandor

1979

Nationwide

Considered to be “poorly researched” and “inflammatory”.22

34India Independent

Charles Bettelheim

1976NationwideBanned for criticizing the policies of the Indian government.23

35Nehru: A Political Biography

Michael Edwards

1975

NationwideGovernment considered grievous factual errors in this book.24

36Early Islam

Desmond Stewart

1975

NationwideThe book purportedly contains grievous factual errors.25

37Man from Moscow

Greville Wynne

1970

Nationwide

The book was banned for purportedly misrepresenting Indian policies.26

38A Struggle between two lines over the question of How to deal with U.S. imperialism.

Fan Asid-Chu

1969

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

39The Jewel in the Lotus

Allen Edwardes

1968

NationwideImport prohibited absolutely.27

40Lady Chatterley’s Lover

D.H. Lawrence

1964

NationwideBanned on the grounds of obscenity.28

41Banned on the grounds of obscenity.28

V.S. Naipaul

1964

Nationwide

Banned for its negative portrayal of India and its people.29

42Unarmed Victory

Bertrand Russell

1963

NationwideThe book dealt with the Sino-Indian War which India lost.30

43Nepal

Toni Hagen


1963

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

44Ayesha

Kurt Frischler

1963

Nationwide

Cannot be imported into India.

45Nine Hours to Rama

Stanley Wolpert

1962
Nationwide ban

The book was thought to be justifying the actions of Nathuram Godse 
who murdered Gandhi.

46The Lotus and the Rama

Arthur Koestler

1960

Nationwide

Criticized the Indian democracy. It cannot be imported into India. Also, this book has often been criticized as ill-researched.32

47The Heart of India

Alexander Campbell

1959

Nationwide ban

The book is a fictionalized and humorous account of Indian bureaucracy and economic policy-making.

48Captive Kashmir

Aziz Beg

1958
Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

49Rama Retold or The Ramayana (American edn.)

Aubrey Menen

1956

NationwideIt was a play which was a spoof of The Ramayana.33

50Dark Urge

Robert W. Taylor

1955

NationwideThis book cannot be imported into India.

51What has religion done for mankind

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

1955

Nationwide

This book tries to refute Eastern religions and cannot be imported into India.34

52Bhupat Singh

Kaluwank Ravatwank

1954

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

53Marka-e-Somnath

Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Hussain Sahab Sadiq Siddhiqui Sardanvi


1952

Nationwide

Written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.35

54Chandramohini

Ansar Nasiri

1952

Nationwide

55Pakistan-Pasmanzarwa Peshmanzar

Hameed Anwar
1950

Nationwide

Originally written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.36

56Cease-Fire

Agha Babar

1950

Nationwide

Originally written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.

57Khak Aur Khoon

Naseem Hijazi

1950

Nationwide

This book portrays the true face of the Hindu fanaticism at the time of Independence when the Hindus tried to rob the Muslims who were trying to escape to Pakistan during the partition.

1 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/perumal-murugan-book-controversy-a…

2 http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/destroy-defamatory-books-o…

3 http://www.livelaw.in/cannot-lift-one-community-demeaning-others-madras…

4 https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/books/gandhi-biography-by-joseph-lel…

5The Guardian, “Mumbai University drops Rohinton Mistry novel after extremists complain”, See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/19/mumbai-university-removes…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

6The Hindu, “You can’t read this book”, See: http://www.thehindu.com/books/you-cant-read-this-book/article2953626.ece, last accessed on May 17, 2018

7 http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/Court-upholds-ban-on-b…

8 http://www.sify.com/news/Books-banned-Of-words-and-woes-imagegallery-2-…

9 http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-supreme-court-upholds-lifting-of-…

10Scoop Woop, “10 Books that were banned in India for various reasons”, See: https://www.scoopwhoop.com/inothernews/books-banned-in-india/#.sr5xttgtu, last accessed on May 17, 2018

11 http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/taslima-nasree…

12 http://www.caleidoscope.in/nostalgiphilia/banned-books-in-india

13 http://www.frontline.in/static/html/fl1822/18220490.htm

14 http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Ziya_Us_Salam/to-eat-or-not-to-…

15 https://www.deseretnews.com/article/477835/INDIA-REMOVES-ITS-BAN-ON-LAT…

16 https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Understanding%20Islam%20throug…

17 https://www.livelaw.in/sc-upholds-ban-mate-mahadevis-book-even-agreed-r…

18 https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/danielle-crittenden/banned-books-week_b_9…

19The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/s…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

20 https://scroll.in/article/820287/why-this-book-on-indias-annexation-of-…

21The Times of India, “Top 10 banned books in India”, See: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/nine-hours-to-rama…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

22 The Indian Express, “Who Killed Gandhi’: PIL in Bombay HC seeks revocation of ban on book”, See: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/who-killed-gandhi-pil-in-bombay-…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

23The Hindu, “You can’t read this book”, See: http://www.thehindu.com/books/you-cant-read-this-book/article2953626.ece, last accessed on May 17, 2018

24Business Standard, “Nilanjana S Roy: Banned books in India: 1970s-2006”, See: http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/nilanjana-s-roy-banned…, last accessed on May 17, 2018.

25 http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/nilanjana-s-roy-banned…

26 https://www.storypick.com/india-banned-books/

27 https://web.archive.org/web/20120921231147/http://www.chennaicustoms.go…

28 https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8066784/Lady-Chatterley-trial…

29The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/s…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

30 https://topyaps.com/top-10-banned-books-in-india

31

32 https://www.storypick.com/india-banned-books/

33 https://scroll.in/article/817926/aubrey-menons-rama-retold-tells-us-to-…

34 https://postcard.news/here-is-a-list-of-banned-books-in-india-for-vario…

35 https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/banned-in-india-the-1…

36 https://bobytg.blogspot.com/