Logo

Defender of your Digital Freedom

All Posts | May 02,2019

Google v. Visakha: Final Arguments

In 2009, Visakha Industries, a construction company involved in the manufacturing of asbestos cement sheets, filed a criminal defamation case against Ban Asbestos Network India (BANI), its coordinator and Google India. It alleged that the coordinator of BANI had written blog posts on a website owned by BANI, that contained scathing criticism of the company and therefore harmed its reputation in the market. Google India was also arraigned as a party in the litigation because the blog post was hosted on the blog publishing service of Google (Google Groups).

Google India moved the High Court of Andhra Pradesh for dismissal of the criminal charges against it on the grounds that it enjoyed safe-harbour protection under Section 79 of the IT Act. It was contended that Google is neither the publisher nor endorser of the information, and only provides a platform for dissemination of information. It, therefore cannot be held liable. The High Court refused to accept Google’s contention and dismissed the petition on the ground that Google failed to take appropriate action to remove the defamatory material, in spite of receiving a take-down notice from the company. Aggrieved by the judgment of the High court, Google filed an appeal in the Supreme Court in 2011, where the matter is currently pending.

On April 23, 2019, the matter came up for final arguments in the court of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K.M. Joseph. Senior Counsel Sajan Poovayya appeared on behalf of Google India and submitted that Google India is a subsidiary of Google US, which is a company incorporated under the laws of the United States of America. He asserted that Google India, by virtue of being a mere subsidiary does not exercise any editorial control over content posted on google groups. It was further contended that the relief claimed by the complainants is misdirected and hence not maintainable since Google India has been arraigned wrongly in this matter. Since Google US is the parent company of Google India, it is an intermediary in the present case, stated Mr. Poovayya. He mentioned that even if Google US is made a co-accused, it will be eligible for safe harbour under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act. Mr. Sajan Poovvayya pointed out that child pornography or content that is blatantly illegal is immediately pulled down from platforms, but whether a particular content is a defamatory cannot be determined by a private company. It has to be a judicial determination. It was highlighted that the terms of services is a document of unimpeachable character which clearly mentions that there is a contract between the content creator and Google Inc. The terms of services also lays down the types of content that cannot be uploaded on Google Groups. On country-specific domain names, Mr. Poovayya clarified that google.co.in is owned and operated by Google Inc and not Google India and the kind of content that can be posted on platforms is different for different countries, depending on the social and cultural context of that particular country.

Mr. Poovayya then emphasized that the present complaint is not against Google, but technology itself, since the complainant has mentioned that Google provides a service that helps in dissemination of information. He mentioned that it is not humanly possible to verify each blog post that is posted on the website since the volume of content is phenomenal. Ms. Madhavi Divan, appearing for Union of India interjected and said that Google India cannot wash its hands off saying that they are a subsidiary and therefore have no control over the content. Someone has to be made responsible.

Mr. Poovayya went on to explain the intermediary liability regime in India, including the procedure for notice and take down which had been overhauled by the Shreya Singhal judgment. He asserted that giving adjudicatory powers to intermediaries is dangerous and will lead to chilling of free speech. The law recognizes that the primary responsibility is on the originator of information since she is the author, and not on the intermediary. In a free speech democracy like India, there cannot be control of content on the Internet, he emphasized. Justice Ashok Bhushan remarked that defamation is subjective. What may be defamatory for one might not be defamatory for another. At this point, Mr. Poovayya gave the example of flag burning which is an offence in India but a symbolic act in the United States.

The hearing continued on May 1, 2019.

Mr. Sajan Poovayya appearing on behalf of Google India reiterated that removal of any content is in the hands of the parent company (Google Inc) and not Google India. He requested the bench to go through Section 2(1)(w) of the IT Act that defines ‘intermediary’ and Section 81 (IT Act to have overriding effect). He then explained that an intermediary is the connector between the ‘originator’ and ‘addressee’ as explained in the IT Act. Mr. Poovayya stated that in this case, the pre-amended section 79 of the Act will apply, but it doesn't make a difference, because Google India is not an intermediary in the present case.

Mr. Poovayya mentioned that in common law, the intermediary is not the publisher of the information. The author and publisher converge in the electronic world. He pointed out that simply hosting content does not constitute ‘knowledge’. Justice K.M Joseph enquired about the kind of functions Google India performs, to which Mr. Poovayya responded by saying that Google India is involved in research and development of software. He remarked that Google India is the subsidiary of an intermediary, but to say Google India is an intermediary is wrong.

Mr. Poovayya then addressed the criminal complaint against Google India and asserted that just because Google’s technology is responsible for dissemination of information, they cannot be made an accused in the present case. He read out Google Inc’s response to the defamation complaint, which said that Google Inc had asked for the exact message ID of the alleged defamatory content and other relevant information. Mr. Poovayya highlighted that the summons that was issued to Google India in Bangalore was outside the jurisdiction of the court. Thereafter, Google had moved the Andhra Pradesh High Court to quash the complaint. He maintained that Google Inc has no liability by virtue of being an intermediary. Explaining Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, Mr. Poovayya stated that ‘actual knowledge’ was read down to mean that a private takedown notice cannot be sent to the intermediary. It has to be either a court order or a government notification. He remarked that Google cannot sit in judgment to decide the legality of a private notice, and therefore the notice and takedown system was scrapped in Shreya Singhal. He cited the American case of Anderson v. New York wherein it was held that a telephone company is a mere conduit and cannot be held responsible for the actions of a third party.

The counsel for Visaskha Industries contended that the exemption given under Section 79 of the IT Act is subject to fulfilment of certain due diligence conditions and it will be a matter of fact whether Google adhered to the Rules. He mentioned that Google India is very secretive about the kind of functions they perform. They should come forward and tell the court what exactly is their function in India. Counsel for Visakha Industries highlighted that Google had all the power to remove the content but did not remove it which suggests that they had consented to the publication of the defamatory content. He maintained that Google may have a defence prior to Visakha Industries sending them a notice, but after receiving the notice, they were obligated to remove it as it affected the complainant’s right to reputation. Concluding his arguments, he stated that Google is present everywhere and hence cannot claim the defence of geographical location. Google ads are local in nature depending on the geographical location of the user.

Senior Counsel Madhavi Divan appeared for the Union of India. She submitted that the role of intermediaries has changed over time. Intermediary is not the publisher of information was the view 2-3 years ago. They were regarded as neutral highways, but this has changed. Now they are curating content on the basis of user behaviour and therefore cannot be regarded ‘neutral’, Ms. Divan remarked. She stated that governments all across the world are grappling with the issue of moderating illegal content on the Internet and gave the example of the Christ Church shooting in New Zealand where the perpetrator live streamed the act on Facebook. Citing Shreya Singhal, Ms. Divan maintained that it cannot be left to the subjective judgment of intermediaries to determine the legality of particular content.

The matter is reserved for judgment and all the parties are requested to submit their written submissions within a week.

All Posts | Apr 08,2019

Madras High Court Bans Downloading of TikTok

On April 3, 2019, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court issued an order (the court order is attached below) prohibiting downloading the TikTok mobile app. The bench comprising Justices N Kirubakaran and SS Sundar has also restrained the media from telecasting videos made on the app and has asked the Central Government whether it will enact a statute similar to the United State’s Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The public interest litigation [Writ Petition (MD) no. 7855 of 2019] was filed by one S. Muthukumar against the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Ministry of Communications, District Collector (Madurai District), Commissioner of Police (Madurai) and the Business Head of TikTok.

Citing misuse of the app, the petitioner prayed (a copy of the petition is attached below) for issuance of a writ of mandamus and banning the TikTok mobile application. The petitioner highlighted widespread circulation of pornography, exposure of children to disturbing content and their susceptibility to paedophiles, degrading culture, social stigma and medical health issues between teens, as reasons for filing the petition. The petition sought to direct the attention of the court to Tamil Nadu State Information Technology Minister’s statement before the State Assembly, urging the Central Government to ban the TikTok app. To emphasize the instances of menace created by various apps, the petitioner cited 159 deaths in India due to incidents involving selfies. The petitioner also mentioned the steps taken by countries such as Indonesia which blocked the TikTok app for circulation of pornographic and blasphemous content as well as the USD 5.7 million fine imposed on the app by the United States under its Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The petition doesn't quote any legal provision and it simply relies on conjecture for asking the court to ban the TikTok app.

A quick reading of the order indicates that the court has not relied on prevailing judicial or legal principles on free speech, censorship and intermediary liability in arriving at the said order. Based on one-sided averments, the court has taken recourse to social morality and endorsed the remarkably overbroad language of the petition which says that the app promotes “degrading culture and encourages pornography besides causing pedophiles and explicit disturbing content, social stigma and medical health issues between teens.” The bench goes on to assert that “nobody can be pranked or shocked or being made a subject of mockery by any third party and it would amount to violation of privacy”. The court further affirmed that addictive apps like TikTok spoil the future and the minds of youngsters.

TikTok, an online intermediary that provides a platform for users to create and share short videos, enjoys safe-harbour protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 79 provides intermediary platforms like TikTok protection against third-party content on their platforms). The Madras High Court has completely disregarded the dictum of the Supreme Court in the case of Shreya Singhal v. Union of India, wherein the apex court had held that intermediaries enjoy a safe-harbour protection for  third-party user generated content on their platforms. The court had also stated that intermediaries are neutral platforms that cannot judge the legitimacy of the content posted on their website(s).

The order violates the fundamental right of free speech as enshrined under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India. Several judicial pronouncements such as Romesh Thapar v. State of Madras[fn][1950] S.C.R 594 at 602[/fn], Bennett Coleman & Co. v. Union of India[fn][1973] 2 S.C.R 757 at 829[/fn], and Shreya Singhal v. Union of India[fn]AIR 2015 SC 1523[/fn] have held that freedom of speech and expression is the bedrock of democracy. The grounds for prohibiting the use of the TikTok app does not fall within the purview of Article 19(2) (which provides for constitutional restrictions on free speech), but instead seems to be based on a skewed sense of morality, which cannot be a guiding principle for constitutional interpretation. In the case of Navtej Singh Johar v. Union of India, the Supreme Court had laid down that constitutional morality trumps social morality and ‘it is the responsibility of all the three organs of the State to curb any propensity or proclivity of popular sentiment or majoritarianism.’

The gag order on media is a classic example of judicial pre-censorship and is against the judgment of the Supreme Court on the issue. The position in common law, as espoused by William Blackstone has been that ‘the liberty of the press is indeed essential to the nature of a free state; but this consists in laying no previous restraints upon publications.’ In 2017, a bench of Justices Khehar and D.Y Chandrachud clarified that pre-broadcast or pre-publication regulation of content was not in the court’s domain.[fn]Common Cause v. Union of India[/fn], The court also said that the role of a court or a statutory authority will come in only after a complaint is levelled against a telecast or publication.

In the case of R. Rajagopal v. State of Tamil Nadu, the court had held that there is no law that authorizes prior restraint. Citing New York Times v. United States, the court observed that "any system of prior restraints of (freedom of) expression comes to this court bearing a heavy presumption against its constitutional validity.”

Though the Madras High court has urged the Government of India to enact a statute like the United State’s COPPA for protecting online privacy of children, it has ultimately banned further download of the application. The court’s order prohibiting the use of the app far exceeds a “proportionate regulatory response” to protect children’s data, as recommended by the Justice B.N.Srikrishna Committee.

TikTok has challenged the order of the Madras High Court before the Supreme Court of India.

The petition and a copy of the order are attached below:

All Posts | Feb 18,2019

Our Counter Comments to MeitY on the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018

The Draft Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules], 2018 (“the Draft Rules”), were issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“MeitY”) on the 24th of December, 2018. The Draft Rules seek to amend existing ‘due diligence’ guidelines [The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011] which are to be followed by ‘intermediaries’ [as per the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”)]. Section 79 of the IT Act provides for a safe-harbour to intermediaries for, “any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him”. Intermediaries are required to observe due diligence while discharging their duties under the IT Act and observe guidelines as laid down by the Central Government.

We had submitted detailed comments to MeitY on the Draft Rules on January 31, 2019, highlighting concerns like - the 'one size fits all' approach to regulation; use of vague and ambiguous terms; violation of free speech and privacy rights; excessive delegation of legislative powers; and lack of procedural safeguards. Our detailed comments can be found, here.

Subsequently, MeitY had uploaded the comments it received from various stakeholders in two batches, they can be found, here and here.

The time period for submitting counter comments to MeitY concluded on February 14, 2019 and we submitted our detailed counter comments to MeitY on the due date. Our counter comments as submitted to MeitY are as follows:

All Posts | Feb 01,2019

Our Comments to MeitY on the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018

The Draft Information Technology [Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules], 2018 (“the Draft Rules”), were issued by the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (“MeitY”) on the 24th of December, 2018. The Draft Rules seek to amend existing ‘due diligence’ guidelines [The Information Technology (Intermediaries Guidelines) Rules, 2011] which are to be followed by ‘intermediaries’ [as per the Information Technology Act, 2000 (“IT Act”)]. Section 79 of the IT Act provides for a safe-harbour to intermediaries for, “any third party information, data, or communication link made available or hosted by him”. Intermediaries are required to observe due diligence while discharging their duties under the IT Act and observe guidelines as laid down by the Central Government.

We have submitted detailed comments to MeitY on the Draft Rules highlighting concerns like - the 'one size fits all' approach to regulation; use of vague and ambiguous terms; violation of free speech and privacy rights; excessive delegation of legislative powers; and lack of procedural safeguards. Our detailed comments are as follows:

All Posts | Feb 01,2019

Joint Letter to MeitY Addressing Key Issues with the Draft IL Rules, 2018

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India ("MeitY"), released the Draft Intermediaries Guidelines (Amendment) Rules, 2018 on the 24th of December, 2018 ("the Draft Rules"). The Draft Rules seek to amend the existing Intermediaries Guidelines, which enlist certain conditions for online intermediaries to follow in order to qualify for the safe-harbour protection offered to them under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act, 2000. MeitY had requested relevant stakeholders to provide their comments/ suggestions by the 31st of January, 2019 on the Draft Rules.

We have submitted a joint letter to Shri Ajay Prakash Sawhney, Secretary, MeitY, highlighting key provisions of the Draft Rules which impact basic human rights such as free speech and privacy. The joint letter has been signed by various civil society organizations, free software associations, public spirited academicians and professionals.

We have also submitted our detailed comments to the Ministry stating our concerns with the Draft Rules. Our detailed comments will be available on this website soon.

We endeavour to regularly consult with concerned government departments on proposals which adversely affect citizen's digital rights.

We thank all the signatories for extending their support and standing for digital rights.

A copy of the joint letter is as follows:

All Posts | Jan 28,2019

SFLC.in Shortlised for 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards

SFLC.in has been nominated for 2019 Index on Censorship Freedom of Expression Awards. In total, 16 nominees were selected from over 400 crowdsourced nominations. The awards are given in four categories: Arts, Campaigning, Digital Activism and Journalism. The awards seek to honour individuals or organisations who have had a ‘demonstrable impact in tackling censorship’. Many of the nominees ‘face regular death threats, others criminal prosecution or exile. Some are currently in prison for daring to speak out against the status quo.’ The judges include investigative journalist Maria Ressa, one of Time magazine’s people of the Year 2018 and actor-activist Khalid Abdalla.

Index on Censorship describes itself as a non-profit that campaigns for and defends free expression worldwide. They publish work by censored writers and artists, promote debate, and monitor threats to free speech. Index on Censorship directly supports groups and individuals facing censorship through their Freedom of Expression Awards Fellowship. The fellowship offers a year-long programme of tailored support to a small group of fellows selected for their outstanding work in the fields of journalism, arts, campaigning and digital advocacy.

Based on the Index of Freedom’s announcement, nominees include ‘exiled street artist Ms. Saffaa whose murals highlight women’s rights and human rights violations in Saudi Arabia; Nigeria’s Institute for Media and Society, which goes to great lengths to improve the country’s media landscape by challenging government regulation and aiding the creation of community radio stations in rural areas; Colombia’s Fundación Karisma, which fights back against internet trolls and promotes freedom of expression online; and The Center for Investigative Reporting of Serbia (CINS), an independent group of investigative journalists exposing corruption in the country.’

SFLC.in has been selected in Digital Activism category. The announcement mentions SFLC.in tracking ‘internet shutdowns in India, a crucial service in a country with the most online blackouts of any country in the world. The tracker was the first initiative of its kind in India and has quickly become the top source for journalists reporting on the issue. As well as charting the sharp increase in the number and frequency of shutdowns in the country, the organisation has a productive legal arm and brings together lawyers, policy analysts and technologists to fight for digital rights in the world’s second most populous country. It also provides training and pro-bono services to journalists, activists and comedians whose rights have been curtailed.

We feel humbled by this nomination and thank Index on Censorship for it. We will continue to focus on our work with a renewed passion.

All Posts | Jan 08,2019

Supreme Court Issues Notice to the Centre for Continued use of Section 66A of the IT Act, 2000

 

Yesterday, The Supreme Court of India issued notice to the Central Government for the continued use of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000 ("the IT Act"), despite the provision being struck down from the statute books as unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in its landmark judgment - Shreya Singhal v. Union of India (2015) [WP (Criminal) No. 167 of 2012). The court has directed the Centre to file a counter affidavit within 4 weeks and another week has been granted for a rejoinder. The petition has been filed by People's Union for Civil Liberties (PUCL).

The erstwhile Section 66A of the IT Act, provided for punishment for sending offensive messages through communication services. The Supreme Court struck it down in its entirety calling it violative of Article 19(1)(a) and not saved by Article 19(2) of the constitution of India.

In its petition, PUCL has submitted that, more than 22 people have been prosecuted under the provision, after it was scrapped by the Supreme Court in 2015. Taking note of the seriousness of the submissions, the bench comprising of Justice Rohinton Nariman and Justice Vineet Saran asserted that the concerned officials will be arrested if its order scrapping the provision has been violated.

A copy of the petition can be found on Bar and Bench's website, here - https://barandbench.com/as-arrests-under-defunct-section-66a-continue-supreme-court-ensures-strict-action/.

A copy of the order of the Supreme Court can be read here:
 

 

 

All Posts | Dec 18,2018

Read me not: List of banned books in India

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 book

Author

Year

State

Description

  1.  

Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev

Priyanka Pathak

2017

Nationwide

It was banned on the ground that it was extremely defamatory in nature for the protagonist.

  1.  

Madhorubhagan

Perumal Murugan

Previously banned,currently available on E-Commerce websites.

Nationwide

It 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

  1.  

Korkoi

Joe D’Cruz

2015

Nationwide

 

  1.  

Sahara: 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.

  1.  

The 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.

  1.  

Santsurya 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

  1.  

The 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.

  1.  

Dhundi

Yogesh Master

2013

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Meendezhum 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

  1.  

Great 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

  1.  

The Red Sari

Javier Moro

2010

Nationwide

Originally 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.

  1.  

Such 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

  1.  

Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence

Jaswant Singh

2009

Gujarat

Banned for containing defamatory references to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.6

  1.  

The 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.

  1.  

Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion

R.V. Bhasin

2007

Maharashtra

SC 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

  1.  

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown

2006

Nagaland

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

  1.  

The 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.8

  1.  

Shivaji: 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

  1.  

Lajja

Tasleema Nasreen

2003

West Bengal

Banned by the West Bengal government.10

  1.  

Dwikhandito

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

  1.  

Five 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

  1.  

Bhavsagar 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

  1.  

The Myth of the Holy Cow

Dwijendra Narayan Jha

2001

Nationwide

The 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

  1.  

Towards 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.

  1.  

The 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

  1.  

Understanding 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

  1.  

Basava Vachana Deepti

Mate Mahadevi

1997

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Soft 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

  1.  

The 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

  1.  

The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie

1988

Nationwide

Banned by Rajiv Gandhi’s government.

  1.  

Smash 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

  1.  

The 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

  1.  

Who Killed Gandhi

Lourenco De Sadvandor

1979

Nationwide

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

  1.  

India Independent

Charles Bettelheim

1976

Nationwide

Banned for criticizing the policies of the Indian government.23

  1.  

Nehru: A Political Biography

Michael Edwards

1975

Nationwide

Government considered grievous factual errors in this book.24

  1.  

Early Islam

Desmond Stewart

1975

Nationwide

The book purportedly contains grievous factual errors.25

  1.  

Man from Moscow

Greville Wynne

1970

Nationwide

The book was banned for purportedly misrepresenting Indian policies.26

  1.  

A 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.

  1.  

The Jewel in the Lotus

Allen Edwardes

1968

Nationwide

Import prohibited absolutely.27

  1.  

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

D.H. Lawrence

1964

Nationwide

Banned on the grounds of obscenity.28

  1.  

An Area of Darkness

V.S. Naipaul

1964

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Unarmed Victory

Bertrand Russell

1963

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Nepal

Toni Hagen

1963

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

  1.  

Ayesha

Kurt Frischler

1963

Nationwide

Cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Nine Hours to Rama

Stanley Wolpert

1962

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nationwide ban

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

  1.  

The 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

  1.  

The Heart of India

Alexander Campbell

1959

Nationwide ban

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

  1.  

Captive Kashmir

Aziz Beg

1958

 

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Rama Retold or The Ramayana (American edn.)

Aubrey Menen

1956

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Dark Urge

Robert W. Taylor

1955

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

What 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

  1.  

Bhupat Singh

Kaluwank Ravatwank

1954

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

  1.  

Marka-e-Somnath

Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Hussain Sahab Sadiq Siddhiqui Sardanvi

1952

Nationwide

Written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.35

  1.  

Chandramohini

Ansar Nasiri

1952

Nationwide

 

  1.  

Pakistan-Pasmanzarwa Peshmanzar

Hameed Anwar

 

 

 

1950

Nationwide

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

  1.  

Cease-Fire

Agha Babar

1950

Nationwide

Originally written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Khak 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.

 

1http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/lead/perumal-murugan-book-controversy-and-madras-high-court/article14476037.ece

2http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/pune/destroy-defamatory-books-on-saints-court/

3http://www.livelaw.in/cannot-lift-one-community-demeaning-others-madras-hcfb-lifts-ban-two-tamil-books-alterations-read-order/

4https://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/books/gandhi-biography-by-joseph-lelyveld-roils-india.html?pagewanted=all

5The Guardian, “Mumbai University drops Rohinton Mistry novel after extremists complain”, See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/19/mumbai-university-removes-mistry-book, 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

7http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/Court-upholds-ban-on-book/article15957487.ece

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

9http://www.dnaindia.com/mumbai/report-supreme-court-upholds-lifting-of-ban-on-shivaji-book-1407570

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

11http://www.business-standard.com/article/current-affairs/taslima-nasreen-book-dwikhandito-once-banned-bengal-govt-now-in-english-118031100465_1.html

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

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

14http://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/Ziya_Us_Salam/to-eat-or-not-to-eat/article7797190.ece

15https://www.deseretnews.com/article/477835/INDIA-REMOVES-ITS-BAN-ON-LATEST-RUSDIE-NOVEL.html

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

17https://www.livelaw.in/sc-upholds-ban-mate-mahadevis-book-even-agreed-right-interpret-religion/

18https://www.huffingtonpost.ca/danielle-crittenden/banned-books-week_b_984910.html

19The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/some-books-that-met-a-banned-fate-in-india/slideshow/30518943.cms, last accessed on May 17, 2018

20https://scroll.in/article/820287/why-this-book-on-indias-annexation-of-sikkim-needs-to-be-read-today

21The Times of India, “Top 10 banned books in India”, See: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/nine-hours-to-rama-by-stanley-wolpert/photostory/58144882.cms, 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-hc-seeks-revocation-of-ban-on-book-on-gandhis-assassination-5014992/, 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-books-in-india-1970s-2006-106053001122_1.html, last accessed on May 17, 2018.

25http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/nilanjana-s-roy-banned-books-in-india-1970s-2006-106053001122_1.htm

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

27https://web.archive.org/web/20120921231147/http://www.chennaicustoms.gov.in/imports/part3.htm

28https://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/8066784/Lady-Chatterley-trial-50-years-on.-The-filthy-book-that-set-us-free-and-fettered-us-forever.html

29The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/some-books-that-met-a-banned-fate-in-india/slideshow/30518943.cms, last accessed on May 17, 2018

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

31

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

33https://scroll.in/article/817926/aubrey-menons-rama-retold-tells-us-to-laugh-at-the-ramayana-no-wonder-its-still-banned

34https://postcard.news/here-is-a-list-of-banned-books-in-india-for-various-reasons-why-are-these-banned/

35https://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/banned-in-india-the-1930s-1960s-106052301151_1.html

36https://bobytg.blogspot.com/

All Posts | Nov 29,2018

Home Department, State of Rajasthan: No more Internet Shutdowns for prevention of cheating in examinations.

There has been a staggering increase in the number of Internet Shutdowns in India. In comparison to 2012 when India saw only three shutdowns over a year, in 2018, India has already observed 127 as of 28th November 2018 instances of Internet Shutdowns. While Internet shutdowns have become almost a standard state response during law and order situations in India, it is still highly unusual to see a shutdown being imposed to prevent cheating during examinations. That being said, we at SFLC.in have been maintaining an Internet Shutdowns tracker since 2012 and recording instances of Internet Shutdowns across India. As a result, we have observed that State of Rajasthan has ordered an Internet shutdown to prevent cheating during examinations on more than two occasions in 2018.

Thus, a Public Interest Litigation challenging orders that were promulgated to impose Internet Shutdowns in Rajasthan to prevent cheating in examinations was filed at the Jodhpur High Court, located in the State of Rajasthan. On 25th July 2018, the matter (CW 10304/2018) was listed and first heard by a division bench of Justice Nirmaljeet Kaur and Justice Dinesh Mehta.

The case was filed primarily to contest the validity of the State of Rajasthan’s action to issue orders to suspend Mobile Internet Services for conducting the Constable recruitment examination 2018. The petitioners, Advocates Nitin Goklani and Pravin Vyas, submitted that this action of the state was beyond the scope of Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, 2017. Petitioners argued that the orders to impose the Internet Shutdowns in order to prevent cheating in examination violated Article 19, fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined under Constitution of India. The Jodhpur High Court took cognizance of the said submission and issued notices to the State of Rajasthan, through its secretary of Home Department, Rajasthan and Divisional Comissioner, Jodhpur.

Home Department of Rajasthan submitted an additional affidavit stating that the suspension of Internet Services for conducting examinations does not fall in the ambit of ‘public safety’ or ‘public emergency’ as provided under the Temporary Suspension of Telecom Services Rules, 2017. In the light of the said affidavit filed by the State of Rajasthan, a division bench comprising of Justice Sangeeta Lodha and Justice Dinesh Mehta disposed off the matter, on Wednesday, 28th November 2018.