The Supreme Court, on Wednesday (September 5), dismissed the petition seeking a ban on the Malayalam novel Meesha for its alleged objectionable portrayal of temple-going women. Pronouncing the verdict authored by him, Chief Justice Dipak Misra said that the imagination of a writer cannot be curbed.
The petition was filed by one N Radhakrishnan from Delhi who objected to a particular dialogue between two characters of the novel who allegedly insulted women of a certain community.
As per reports, the petitioner also alleged that the comments of the author about a certain class of a community amounted to a casteist or racial slur.
Dismissing the petition, a three-judge bench comprising Chief Justice Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said the fundamental right of an author to freely express oneself cannot be held hostage to the vagaries of subjective perceptions of random persons
CJI Misra said: “A book should not be read in a fragmented manner, but as a whole. Subjective perceptions about a book should not be allowed to enter the legal arena when it comes to censorship.”
As author S Hareesh withdrew his novel, he received support from the Chief Minister of Kerala, Pinarayi Vijayan and former Chief Minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader VS Achuthanandan. Well known Malayalam writers had also come out in support of the author.
Hareesh’s novel is allegedly heaping disrespect on Hindu women who go to temples to offer prayers. One of his characters in the novel says that women dressed in colourful attire go to temples with the intention of expressing their willingness to have sex with the priests. As infuriated women and men collectively opened the floodgates of criticism, the novelist had to withdraw the novel from publication, probably after pressure from the media house itself.
Read judgment here: https://www.sci.gov.in/supremecourt/2018/27877/27877_2018_Judgement_05-Sep-2018.pdf
— India Legal Bureau