GANDHINAGAR: If you are caught in public with a copy of Jaswant Singh’s controversial book – Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence – you could
be arrested, going by the law banning its sale and propagation in Gujarat. Little wonder then that the Vadodara-based man who got it as a gift from a friend in Mumbai, decided to lend the book to protesters who wanted a copy to burn!The government notification, issued on August 19 by the home department prohibiting the book, says that the contents of the book are highly objectionable and against national interest.
It further adds, “The Gujarat government is of the opinion that the text in it is misleading for the public and against interest of the state, and therefore, the book must be forfeited and prohibited.”Invoking Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, read with Sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code, the notification says, “The Gujarat government hereby forfeits and prohibits the said book, its publication, display, sale and distribution as well as any kind of its use.”
Interpreting the sections, officials say anyone possessing the book can be booked under cognizable and non-bailable offence, as it is supposed to hurt religious feelings. Senior lawyer Girish Patel told TOI, “Police have got rights to confiscate the book from a person who has brought it from outside and if they come to know of it, they can seize it by obtaining a search warrant against him/her. However, it could be difficult if the reading of this book is broadcast or telecast on electronic media from other states, since Jaswant’s book is not banned in other parts of the country, he added.
Officials of the state home department, which got a copy of the banned book hours before effecting the ban, were seeing poring over it to find objectionable sections to justify the clauses used to ban it after a public interest litigation was filed against the ban in Gujarat High Court.