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SC dismisses plea against Malayalam novel 'Meesha'

The court said that language, ideas, style, the manner of portrayal of a character, and other aspects of the book had to be appreciated from an objective point of view.

SC dismisses plea against Malayalam novel 'Meesha'

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a plea seeking a ban on a part of Malayalam novel 'Meesha' saying subjective perception about the book cannot be allowed to come into the legal arena for censorship to stifle the creative imagination of a writer.

Dismissing the petition, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud in their judgment said: "To apply the litmus test, it is to be borne in mind that a book should not be read in a fragmented manner. It had to be read as a whole." 

The petitioner N. Radhakrishnan had sought a ban on a part of the novel which he contended had portrayed women and temple priests in an "objectionable" manner.

The court said that language, ideas, style, the manner of portrayal of a character, and other aspects of the book had to be appreciated from an objective point of view.

Speaking for the bench, Chief Justice Misra said: "There may be subjective perception of a book as regards its worth and evaluation, but the said subjectivity cannot be allowed to enter the legal arena for censorship or a ban."

The CJI further said, "It has to be kept in mind that the imagination of a writer has to enjoy freedom. It cannot be asked to succumb to specifics. That will tantamount to imposition."

Asserting that a writer "should have free play with words, like a painter has it with colours", the court said: "The passion of imagination cannot be directed."