Calcutta High Court on Tuesday extended its interim order prohibiting People’s Book Society from publishing, selling and marketing Taslima Nasreen’s controversial autobiography, Dwikhandita, till Thursday. The matter has also been fixed for hearing on December 4.
Sinha Associates, a city-based law firm, took the brief on behalf of Nasreen and will contest as respondent. The publisher, Shibani Mukherjee, will also be a respondent and her lawyer, Joymalya Bagchi, will contest the matter.
Petitioner Syed Hasmat Jalal had alleged that the author had levelled several false allegations against him and had distorted his moral and religious standing. The Calcutta-based poet has filed a defamation suit of Rs 11 crore. On November 18, the high court had passed an interim order prohibiting the sale of the book, following which the government banned Dwikhandita.
The defamation suit came up for hearing before Justice Jayanta Biswas on Tuesday. The court-appointed receiver, Ramesh Sharma, filed a report before the bench. His lawyer, Biswanath Samaddar, told the court that Sharma had raided several places but could not trace the book.
State minorities affairs minister Mohammed Salim, meanwhile, said on Tuesday that he personally felt that Nasreen’s book could not cause a riot. “If Praveen Togadia’s statements cannot, how can her book create communal disharmony'” he asked. He, however, clarified that a book ban was justified “legally and constitutionally” if it hurt the sentiment of a community or could create tension between two communities.