Calcutta, April 16: A special bench of three high court judges today resumed hearing a petition challenging the authority of the state to ban Taslima Nasrin’s Dwikhandita.
The Association for Protection of Democratic Rights argued in court that the ban violates law. Its lawyer said the government’s decision impedes the freedom of speech. “The Constitution of the country has given us the right to express our views freely. So, the government’s decision is ultra vires to the Constitution.”
The lawyer read out paragraphs from the book that the state found objectionable and submitted before the court that the government’s view was biased.
The Supreme Court, the association contended, has also expressed its views on the protection of the right to information. “It is the responsibility of (the) readers to decide whether a book is good or bad,” its counsel argued in court today.
Representing the Minority Forum, Idris Ali sought the court’s permission to be included as a party to the case. Advocate-general Balai Ray will tell the court the government’s views on the petition when it comes up for hearing on Monday.
In a notification dated November 27, 2003, Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee’s government banned the sale and publication of Dwikhandita. The chief minister apparently read the book and felt that its circulation in the state might harm communal harmony.
Two months after it was outlawed, the association moved the high court asking the chief justice to constitute a special bench to decide if the government had the right to ban a book.