HC brakes on biography

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  • Published 5.11.08

Cuttack, Nov. 5: Orissa High Court restrained Penguin Books India Private Limited from publishing The Lives of Sri Aurobindo authored by Peter Heehs without obtaining a no objection certificate from the Union information and broadcasting ministry and the Union home ministry.

The Columbia University Press in USA has already published the biography. Penguin Books was supposed to release it in India this month. The two-judge bench of Justice I.M. Qudussi and Justice B.P. Ray imposed the interim restriction in response to a writ petition yesterday seeking a ban on the book alleging that the author had cast aspersions on Sri Aurobindo’s image. Balasore-based Gitanjali Devi, the wife of Jayant Bhattacharya, had filed the petition.

The court posted the case for next hearing to December 15 while directing the Union information and broadcasting ministry to submit a report by then. The court expected the ministry to examine the content of the book and ascertain the veracity of the allegations.

The petitioner’s counsel, Milan Kanungo, in the preliminary hearing on Tuesday said the author had made defamatory descriptions questioning the character of the leader in seven pages. Heehs, who claimed to be a scholar and a founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, had resorted to gross falsity in the book, the petitioner’s counsel further alleged.