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Varsha Publications Pvt. Ltd. and anr. Vs. State of Maharashtra and ors. - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectCriminal
CourtMumbai High Court
Decided On
Judge
Reported in1983CriLJ1446
AppellantVarsha Publications Pvt. Ltd. and anr.
RespondentState of Maharashtra and ors.
Excerpt:
- code of criminal procedure, 1973 [c.a. no. 2/1974]. section 41: [ swatanter kumar, cj, smt ranjana desai & d.b. bhosale, jj] arrest of accused - held, a police officer or a person empowered to arrest may arrest a person without intervention of the court subject to the limitations specified under the provisions of the code. the provisions of section 41 of the code provides for arrest by a police officer without an order from a magistrate and without a warrant. a distinct and different power under section 44 of the code empowers the magistrate to arrest or order any person to arrest the offender. under section 44 of the code, that power is vested in the court of the magistrate when an offence is committed in his presence. if the legislature has taken care of providing such specific power.....chandurkar, acting c.j.1. i have read the judgment proposed to be delivered by my learned brother gadgil j., which sets out the relevant facts and the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioners. i agree with the view taken by gadgil j. that the impugned notification does not contain the grounds as contemplated by section 95 of the criminal p.c. and is, therefore, liable to be struck down on that ground. the instant case, in my view, is squarely covered by the decision of the supreme court in harnam das v. state of u.p. : [1962]2scr487 , and state of u.p. lalai singh yadav : 1977crilj186 . since the impugned notification is liable to be struck down on the first ground canvassed on behalf of the petitioners, i do not consider it necessary to consider the second contention that the.....
Judgment:

Chandurkar, Acting C.J.

1. I have read the judgment proposed to be delivered by my learned brother Gadgil J., which sets out the relevant facts and the contentions raised on behalf of the petitioners. I agree with the view taken by Gadgil J. that the impugned notification does not contain the grounds as contemplated by Section 95 of the Criminal P.C. and is, therefore, liable to be struck down on that ground. The instant case, in my view, is squarely covered by the decision of the Supreme Court in Harnam Das v. State of U.P. : [1962]2SCR487 , and State of U.P. Lalai Singh Yadav : 1977CriLJ186 . Since the impugned notification is liable to be struck down on the first ground canvassed on behalf of the petitioners, I do not consider it necessary to consider the second contention that the grounds, if any, have no nexus with the forming -of opinion as contemplated by Section 95 of the Criminal P.C. 1973. In the result, I agree that the impugned notification is liable to be quashed and the copies forfeited should be returned to the petitioners.

GADGIL, X (for himself and for Kotwal, J.);- 2. The petitioners have filed this petition under Section 96 of the Cr. P. C challenging the notification No. BAP-1282/3318/XXXIV dt. 31st July 1982, issued by the State Government declaring that every copy of the Marathi weekly 'SHREE' stands forfeited as it contains certain matters which would be punishable under Section 153A of the Penal Code, This notification is issued under Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure and the concerned aggrieved party is entitled to apply to the High Court for setting aside the said declaration of forfeiture. Sub-section (2) of Section 96 of the Criminal P.C. provides that every such application shall be heard and determined by a Special Bench of the High Court composed of three Judges and it is in this manner the Writ petition is heard by us and is being decided by this judgment.

3. Petitioner No. 1 is a limited company carrying on the business of printing and publishing of certain weeklies at Bombay. The second petitioner is the editor, printer and publisher of these publications. The Marathi weekly known as 'SHREE' is being published by the petitioners. In addition, two other weeklies, one in Gujarati and the other in Hindi are also published. The 'SHREE' weekly has a circulation of over one Lakh copies per week. In the issue dt. 17th July 1882 an article written by Shri D. B Pradhan with a title 'AKHATI DESHAT VAIDIC DHARMA' was printed. The petitioners in their prior issue of the weekly dated 10th July 1982 had set out/advertised that in the next issue of the weekly dated 17th July 1982, such an article would be published. According to the petitioners, they had read certain articles by Shri D. B, Pradhan published in the magazine 'Saptahik Gaukari' in the issue dated 21st, 28th June 1981 and 12th and 19th October 1981. They have also read in the popular Marathi daily 'Sunday Loksatta' dated 9th May 1982 an article on the same subject. Petitioner No. 2 found those articles very interesting and at his request Shri D. B. Pradhan sent the article in question based on his historical research, The petitioners allege that the said Shri D. B. Pradhan is a noted research scholar and historian and hence the petitioners got the article written from him. It is also alleged that the article in question was compiled from various text books and reference books and it is based on historical evidence and the author has sought to bring to light certain historical facts hitherto unknown. The petitioners further allege that the said article is of academic interest and the author seeks to bring to the notice of others certain historical facts in the form of. an interesting article published in a magazine widely read by a cross section of the public. According to the petitioner, the article sets out the religious, cultural and socio-historical backgrounds prevailing in Western Asia before the advent of Islam.

4. The petitioners completed the printing of 1,26,000 copies of the issue dated 17th July 1982 by 11.30 p. m. on 10th July 1982. On the next day the police headed by Police Inspector Kadam, respondent No. 3 came to the premises of the petitioners at about midnight and seized more than 40,000 copies of the issue and certain other material such as plates, blocks etc. Before this seizure, over 50,000 copies were already despatches by the petitioners to the various, destinations in Maharashtra and elsewhere in India and the petitioners say that the police seized more than 10,000 copies from various places after 11th July 1982. There are certain averments as to how the petitioners approached the Metropolitan Magistrate for getting those copies back on the ground that they were illegally seized by the police without any warrant and how ultimately they filed Criminal Writ Petition No. 43C of 1982 in this Court. But, all those aspects would not be of much relevance for deciding this petition.

5. We have already observed that the State of Maharashtra has issued Notification No. BAP-1282/2318/XXXIV dt 31st July 1982 under Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure declaring the publication of the above issue forfeited on the ground that it contained matters which would be punishable under Section 153A of the I.P.C. The section deals with a number of aspects However, Sub-section (a) is relevant for our purpose As per that sub-section, whether by words either spoken or written, promotes or attempts to promote, on the ground of religion and race, disharmony or ill-will would be guilty under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code. At this stage it would be convenient to reproduce the impugned-notification. It reads as follows:-

'WHEREAS, it appears to the....Government of Maharashtra that an-article under the caption 'AKHATI DESHAT VAIDIC DHARMA' written by Shri D. B. Pradhan in the Marathi weekly 'SHREE' in its issue of 17th July 1982, printing press, Varsha House, 6, Jalaria Bunder Road, Sewri, Bombay 400015 (hereinafter referred to as 'the-said Publication') and the cover thereof contains matter which purports to prove that in Pre-Islamic times the ancient Indian culture and Hindu religion were in vogue in Arabia and that the Islamic religion, culture and Article were greatly-influenced by the Indian culture and-religion and which thereby, promotes, on grounds of religion and race, disharmony or ill-will between the Muslim and Hindu communities and commits an act which is prejudicial to the maintenance: of harmony between the said two communities and which is likely to disturb the public tranquillity.

AND WHEREAS, the Government of: Maharashtra on the grounds mentioned in the preceding paragraph is of the opinion that the publication of the said matter especially the matter at pages 4 and 6 of the said publication is punishable under Section 153A of the I.P.C. 1860 (XLV of 1860).

NOW, therefore, in exercise of the powers conferred by Sub-section (1) of Section 95 of the (Cr. P.C. 1973 (2 of 1974) the Government of Maharashtra hereby declares that every copy of the said publication shall be forfeited to-Government.

The petitioners have challenged this notification on various grounds. However, the main submission made by Shri Ashok Desai for the petitioners is threefold. He argued that Section 95 of the Cr. P.C. requires that the notification-must state the grounds on the basis of which the State Government has formed an opinion that the issue in question contained matter which is punishable under Section 153A of the I.P.C. and that in the absence of such grounds, the notification will be bad in law and consequently the forfeiture of the copies of the issue dated 17th July 1982 would also be unlawful. The second contention is that even if it is assumed that the notification contains certain grounds, these grounds are absolutely irrelevant for forming an opinion that the article contains matter which is punishable under Section 153A of the I.P.C. According to him, the grounds even if they are assumed to be true would have no nexus with the forming of opinion as mentioned in the notification. His third contention is that a plain reading of the article in question would show that the article is based upon historical research and that under no circumstances, the Government would be, able to contend that such research articles on history would promote or attempt to promote disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill-will between the Muslim and Hindu communities.

6. The Notification under Section 95 of the Cr. P.C. must set out the grounds on which the State Government has formed a particular opinion. What has been stated in the notification is that the contents of the article (more particularly the cover of the weekly and pages 4 and 6 of the said publication) contain matter which is punishable under Section 153A of the I.P.C. and it is on these grounds action under Section 95 is being taken. Mere mention of the article in the notification would not constitute giving or setting the grounds as contemplated by Section 95. There cannot be any dispute about this legal position as the Supreme Court has on a number of occasions considered this aspect. In the case of Harnam Das v. State of Uttar Pradesh reported in : [1962]2SCR487 , the Government had issued a notification under Section 95 of the Cr. P.C. On page 1663, the said notification has been reproduced in verbatim. It recites that the Government is pleased to declare the book in question forfeited to Government on the ground that the book contains matters, the publication of which would be an offence under Section 295A of the I.P.C. This notification was issued under Section 99A of the old Cr. P.C. of 1898. The provisions of Sections 99A to 99D are similar to the provisions of Sections 95 and 96 of the new Cr. P.C. They are practically similar word by word. The Supreme Court held that two things are clear. The first thing is that an order can be made only when the Government forms a certain opinion that a particular writing contains matter, the publication of which is punishable under Sections 124A, 153A or 295A. The other thing is that before applying that section, the Government has to state the grounds of its opinion. The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that the impugned order no doubt stated about the Government's opinion but it nowhere stated the grounds of its opinion. The Legislature has given a right to the aggrieved party to make an application to the High Court challenging such an order and in para. 9 of the judgment, the Supreme Court has stated that it is this order, that is, the order based on the grounds stated, which the party affected has been given the right to move the Court to set it aside. The Supreme Court has further held that the question as to whether the order was proper or not would depend only on the merits of the grounds on which it is passed and that the order must be accepted or rejected on the grounds so stated. If the order does not contain any grounds, the Supreme Court came to the conclusion that such an order would be bad in law. We would like to reproduce the relevant headnote which reads as follows:-

Reading Sections 99A, 99B and 99D together, the words 'matter of such a nature as is referred to in Sub-section (1) of Section 99-A' appearing in Section 99-D-mean only those matters on which the order of forfeiture was based, that is, those which for the reasons stated by it,. the Government thought were punishable under one or more of Sections 124-A, 153-A and 295-A, Penal Code mentioned by it. They do not mean any matter of the nature as the High Court thought. Hence, it is the duty of the High Court under Section 99-D to set aside an order of forfeiture if it is not satisfied that the grounds, on which the Government formed its opinion that the books contained matters, the publication of which would be punishable under any one or more of Sections 124-A, 153-A or 295-A of the Penal Code, could justify that opinion. It is not its duty to do more and to find for itself whether the book contained any such matter whatsoever.

The Supreme Court came to the conclusion that mere statement that a particular document contains any matter punishable under Sections 124-A, SB3-A or 295-A would not do and that the notification must state the grounds. The position is made more clear by the Supreme Court in another case State of U.P. v. Lalai Singh Yadav reported in : 1977CriLJ186 . This matter before the Supreme Court arose out of the decision of the Allahabad High Court reported in , the impugned notification has been reproduced verbatim. The relevant portion of the notification is to the effect that.

The book... and the book...contain matters detailed in the appendix to this notification, which are deliberately and maliciously intended to outrage the religious feelings of a class of citizens of India...

After making these recitals, the notification further states that.

On the grounds mentioned above, the notification under Section 99-A of the Cr. P.C. is being issued.' Thus, in the notification before the Supreme Court there is reference not only to the books but certain extracts therefrom have been appended to the notification as appendix and the said notification has stated that the books contained matters appended in the appendix and the contents thereof would be an offence punishable under Section 295-A. The question arose as to whether such a notification can be said to have complied with all the necessary requirements of Section 99-A. The Allahabad High Court answered this question in the negative and quashed the notification, The relevant observations in the judgment of the Allahabad High Court appear in paragraph 13. They read as follows:-

The formation of opinion, therefore, was riot subjective but it had necessarily to be objective. The very fact that the State Government is required to state the grounds of its opinion shows that it is required to mention the particular facts, reasons and circumstances upon or on the basis of which it had come to form the opinion forerunning the order forfeiting the said two books. The order, therefore, has to be so to say, a speaking order and the High Court under Section 99-D of the Code has to satisfy itself with reference to the grounds of the opinion of the State Government stated in the impugned order published in the Gazette and come to a decision as to whether the books in question contain matters of such a nature as is referred to in Sub-section (1) of Section 99-A of the Code...

In paragraph 14, the Allahabad High Court construed the notification in the following words:-

But the notification to our mind does not contain the grounds of the opinion of the State Government which it had to state as required by Sub-section (1). The notification merely states that the books in question contain matters detailed in the appendix to the notification which are deliberately and maliciously intended to outrage the religious feelings of a class of citizens in India namely, Hindus by insulting their religion and religious beliefs. It does not give the grounds for the formation of the opinion by the State Government...

When the matter went to the Supreme Court, it was urged that the notification itself contained grounds as it had referred to certain portions from the books. This contention has been rejected by the Supreme Court in the following words:-

Shri Uniyal, counsel for the State, submits that though there is no express enunciation of the grounds for Government's opinion, the appendix makes up for it. He argues that the numbers of the pages and the lines of the offending publication supply both the 'matters' and the 'grounds', the latter being so patent that the omission is inconsequential. Mere reference to the matter, sufficiently particularised functionally supplies, by implicit reading or necessary implication, the legal requirement of statement of grounds. The office of furnishing the reason or foundation for the governmental conclusion is substantially, though not formally, fulfilled where the appendix, an integral part of. the order, sets out self-speaking materials. When the grounds are self-evident, silence is whispered in speech and the law does not demand their separate spelling out as a ritualistic formality. The counter-contention is that express conditions for barricading the fundamental freedom of expression designedly imposed by the Code cannot be whittled down by the convenient doctrine of implication, the right being too basic to be manacled without strict and manifest compliance with the specific stipulations of the provisions.

In paragraph 8, the Supreme Court has held that the drastic restriction on the right of a citizen calls for strict consideration especially when quasi-penal consequences also ensued. It is also material to note that in paragraph 8, the Supreme Court has observed as follows:-The Court cannot make a roving inquiry beyond the grounds set forth in the order and if the grounds are altogether left out, what is the Court to examine?

The Supreme Court thereafter came to the conclusion that the impugned notification did not contain any grounds and that it has been properly struck out.

7. If we' analyse the impugned notification in the present case with the help of the law laid down by the Supreme Court in the abovementioned two cases the impugned notification will have to be struck out as it does not contain any grounds. In the present case the notification reproduced in paragraph 4 (Paragraph 5 in this report-Ed.) above is practically similar to the notifications which were before the Supreme Court in the abovementioned two cases. There is only one difference, namely, in our notification after referring to the article, there is a mention that it contains matters 'which purports to prove that in pre-Islamic times the ancient Indian culture and Hindu religion were in vogue in Arabia and that the Islamic religion, culture and Article were greatly influenced by the Indian culture and religion' Shri Hudlikar for the State frankly stated before us that this averment cannot be construed as grounds, as according to him, they are only propositions. According to him, the cover page and more particularly the contents of the article on pages 4 and 6 should be read as grounds. Thus, he wants to urge that mere mention of the article or a part thereof in the notification would constitute grounds contemplated by Section 95. In our opinion, it is this very contention that has been rejected by the Supreme Court in the abovementioned two cases and hence, it will be very difficult for the respondents to contend that the notification in question has stated grounds and has complied with the mandatory provisions of law.

8. The position would not be different even if we assume that the portion of the notification which is reproduced in the abovementioned paragraphs is treated as grounds. As a matter of fact these words allege that by writing the article, the author purports to prove that in pre-Islamic times the ancient Indian culture and Hindu religion were in vogue and alleges that Islamic culture, religion and Article were greatly influenced by the Indian culture and religion. It is material to note that just below the printed article, there is a reference list consisting of more than 15 books and other material. Obviously, the author has made use of these various books and other material for preparing the article. Respondents Nos. 1 and 3 have filed their separate returns. Though the returns are separate, the contentions and averments are on similar lines. In the grounds in the petition, the petitioners have contended that the said article is a historical and literary composition carried out by the author, and that too in a temperate language. In paragraph 15 of its return, the State has alleged as follows:-

I further state that the intention and purpose of writing the said article as mentioned in the said ground may be correct as per the contentions of the petitioner...

If the reaction can be reasonably contemplated to come within the mischief of Section 153-A of the I.P.C. then whatsoever laudable purpose may be in writing the said article can be of no consequence for contending that notification under Section 95 of the Cr. P.C. is bad in law.

In paragraph 18, respondent No. 1 has stated that the article in question may be a scholarly article and then contended that such a scholarly article with a view to making research is of no consequence. In Para. 20, it is alleged that if at the time of 'Ramzan', the Muslim community were to know that their prophet Mohammed came from Hindu family of 'Shaivas' they would have reacted very violently. Police Inspector Kadam has also stated in Paragraph 6 that the publisher may have published the said' article so as to bring out certain socio-historical facts or certain religious and cultural facts before the advent of Islam as prevailing in Western Asia. He has however alleged that the Government apprehended that though the article may contain the true facts, still the question before the Government was whether these facts were likely to create disharmony between two: sections of different religions. In Paragraphs 10 and 11 he stated that the reference books given at the end of the article may be correct and that the article may be a scholarly researched article. in paragraph 12, he stated that the fact that the author has used temperate, dignified and mild language in the said article and that it is a scholarly piece of work is not relevant and in spite thereof the matter may come within, the provisions of Section 153-A. It is material to note that the respondents while making all the above averments have proceeded on the basis that the corresponding averments in the petition may be true. They did not deny the truth of the averments in the petition. And hence the petitioners are right when they contend that the respondents admit that the article is a historical and literary composition written in a temperate and dignified language and based upon the research made by the author with the help of the reference books mentioned below the article. Similarly, the article gives certain socio-historical as well as religious and cultural facts.

9. The notification makes it clear that the very purpose of the article is to prove that in pre-Islamic times, the ancient Indian culture and Hindu religion were in vogue in Arabia and that the Islamic religion, culture and Article were greatly influenced by the Indian culture and religion. It was contended by. Shri Desai that 'the Government has rightly construed the purpose which was in the mind of the author when he wrote the article. He further argued that the purpose was to show the position as was prevalent in the pre-Islamic times and that this purpose would be absolutely irrelevant and cannot form the basis to come to a conclusion that the discussion about the said pre-Islamic period would promote on the grounds of religion and race disharmony and ill-will between the Muslim and Hindu communities. According to him, the discussion of the pre-Islamic position would have no nexus when we have to consider its effect after the advent of Islam. He particularly drew our attention to the fact that in the pre-Islamic times there would not be any Islam religion and that whatever discussion appears in the article about the pre-Islamic times has no bearing for considering the question-of alleged disharmony or ill-will between the Muslim and Hindu communities on the basis of religion. He argued that the discussion in the article pertains to the period when there existed no Islam religion and then posed a question as to how one can legitimately say that such a discussion can create any disharmony or ill-will between the Hindus and Muslims. In our view this contention of Shri Desai is well founded and that no reasonable man can form his opinion that the said discussion would promote on the ground of religion any disharmony or ill-will between the Muslims and Hindus.

10. The second ground in the notification is that the Islam religion, culture and Article were greatly influenced by Indian culture and religion, and the author has discussed both these cultures and religions and has made the above statement. Shri Desai is right when he contends that such a scholarly and historical discussion cannot be construed by any man of ordinary prudence as a ground which would promote disharmony or ill-will between the Muslims and Hindus. Thus, the two grounds (if at all treated to be grounds) mentioned in the notification would not enable the Government to form any reasonable and rational opinion that the article would promote disharmony or ill-will as alleged. Consequently, the notification will have to be struck down if we take it that the notification does not contain any grounds. Similarly, the position would not be different if the above-mentioned two grounds are construed to be grounds inasmuch as those grounds have no nexus for forming the necessary opinion.

11. We have already observed that Shri Hudlikar has contended that the article and its contents would constitute grounds under Section 95 and it is for this reason that he wanted to rely upon certain statements in the article. It is not necessary to reproduce the entire article in the judgment. As far as the alleged purpose of creating disharmony and ill-will between the Hindus and Muslims is concerned, we will have to read the article as a whole. The article states that though an impression may be created that Islam and Islamic countries are utterly different from Indian culture and. religion, still the historical research would show otherwise. After making this preamble, the author has given a re'sume' as to what was the position prevailing in pre-Islamic times. He has mentioned that in those times an Indian King by name Harith lived in the Gulf country in 169 B. C. Then he has referred to a book known as 'Sayar-ul-Okul' and a poem written by poet Labi-bin-E-Akhtab-E-Turk who lived 2,300 years before the Prophet Mohomed and in that poem there mention of four Vedas and their importance. He has referred to Tamilian colonies in pre-Islamic Arabia and at that time Shaiy religion was prevailing in those colonies. He has also referred to a poem by Usmabin-E-Hashsham who was the uncle of Prophet Mohomed and a prayer offered by this uncle to Shiva as it appears from the poem is reproduced in the article in the following words :-

Oh Lord Shankar If I were able to live for even a single day in India where man attains salvation, I would willingly surrender my entire life for that single day.

In the background of this fact, there is a mention in the article that the family of Mohomed was previously Vedic Shaiv Hindu. Similarly, the cover page contains a picture of 'Kaba' and the letter 'Om'. In out opinion this cover and the title depict nothing more than the theme of the article. It is than stated that in pre-Islamic days, Vedic Hindu religion was in vogue in Gulf countries. The religious ceremonies which are offered at Mecca are also discussed by the author. To take a Pradakshana is not the ceremony which exists in any other holy place of Islam while at Kaba such a Pradakshana is taken by the pilgrims. The author has stated that at Mecca initially there were Hindu temples consisting of 300 deities (one of which was Shiva deity) and that Prophet, Mohomed ?destroyed these temples and converted the temples into places of worship for Muslims. The article then states that there was a Shiva temple which was hidden by Prophet Mohomed in a wall. However, due to old traditional influence of idol worship, the newly converted Muslims used to worship that wall which is known as Kaba. It appears that these statements are made on the basis of the reference books listed below the article. Ali this discussion appears on page 4 of the issue dated 17th July 1982. On page 5 there is some discussion about Hindu Mythology namely, the Ramayana and the Mahabtiarata. Then there is a statement that the Islamic architecture and Article reveals the influence of ancient Hindu architecture, for example, the arches of the ancient Buddhist Chaityas are the arches in Mosques while the domes in the mosques are similar to the Kalasha of a temple. There is also a discussion as to how Bakar-Id of Muslims and Yagna of Hindus have a similar ceremony of sacrificing a goat. The Ekadashi Day of the Hindus and the Gyaravi (Eleventh) Sharif of the Muslims also appear to the author as similar. As far as Haj is concerned, the author states that it is derived from the word 'Vraj'. On this very page 5, there is also reference to the Zoroastrian religion as was prevalent in pre-Islamic Iran and then there appears a discussion that in pre-Islamic Iran, Vedic culture prevailed there. The important facets of the Zoroastrian religion and Hindu religion have been considered to show the similarity in both. On page 6, there is also is also mention as to how the Zoroastrian and Hindus used to have liquor and Som at the time of their religious functions. The article then states that Chitpavan Brahmins of Maharashtra must have come from Iran and that the famous Gokhales of Maharashtra must have come from the Gokalan Province on the border of Iran. He has also stated on page 7 that some experts are of the view that the Ashoka pillar with lions which has been adopted as the Indian State emblem is an Iranian Article The article contains some details of Hindu Mythology in the Ramayana and the Mahabharata. But the impugned notification imputes an intention to create a feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will amongst Muslims. In this background we do not intend to consider certain statements in the articles for the purpose of finding out as to whether they are intended to create such feeling among the Hindus. Hence it is not necessary to give the details of the statements.

12. The above is the thrust of the article and the Government itself has formed an opinion that the very purpose of the article is to show as to how in pre-Islamic times the ancient Hindu culture and Hindu religion were in vogue in Arabia and how Islamic culture, religion and Article were greatly influenced by Indian culture and religion, The article does not intend or exhibit any insult to any religion. It is true that a sentence here or a sentence there taken without context may make somewhat clumsy reading. However, this Court in Gopal Vinayak Godse v. Union of India reported in : AIR1971Bom56 has discussed the question as to how the book or the article should be read and construed. That case was also one under Section 99-A. The relevant portion of the head-note reads as follows:-

The matter charged as being within the mischief of Section 153-A must be read as a whole. One cannot rely on stray isolated passages for proving the charge nor indeed can one take a sentence here and a sentence there and connect them by a meticulous process of inferential reasoning...

We have already observed that the very purpose of writing the article is a sort of historical research and it is based on a number of reference books and other material. It is true that sometimes in a given case even a truthful account may come within the mischief of Section 153-A. But, this will be too broad a proposition. Different considerations will prevail when we are to consider a scholarly article on history and religion based upon research with the help of a number of reference books. It will be very difficult for the State to contend that a narration of history would promote violence, enmity or hatred. If such a contention is accepted, a day will come when that part of history which is unpalatable to a particular religion will have to be kept in cold storage on the pretext that the publication of such history would constitute an offence punishable under Section 153-A of the I.P.C. We do not think that the scope of Section 153-A can be enlarged to such an extent with a view to thwart history. For obvious reasons, history and historical events cannot be allowed to be looked as a secret on a specious plea that if the history is made known to a person who is interested to know the history, there is likelihood of someone else being hurt. Similarly, an article containing a historical research cannot be allowed to be thwarted on such a plea that the publication of such a material would be hit by Section 153-A, Otherwise, the position will be very precarious. A nation will have to forget its own history and in due course the nation will have no history at all. This result cannot be said to have been intended by the Legislature when Section 153-A of the I.P.C. and S: 95 of the Cr. P.C. were enacted. If anybody intends to extinguish the history (by prohibiting its publication) of the nation on the pretext of taking action under the above sections, his act will have to be treated as mala fide one.

13. The result, therefore, is that the petition succeeds, The impugned notification is quashed and the forfeiture of the copies is set aside. The copies so forfeited by the respondents should be returned to the petitioners forthwith. The petitioners are entitled to get their costs from the respondents.


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