14 Mar 2009

Orissa Govt tells High Court to ban Heehs' book

Orissa Govt. told HC to ban publication of biography on Aurobindo
Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Report by Orissadiary correspondent, Cuttack:
In a significant development Orissa Government told the Orissa High Court that they would take immediate steps to ban the publication and circulation of the controversial book titled ’The Life of Sri Aurobindo’ written by US writer Peter Hasse. Along with State Government, Central government on Wednesday told the High Court the same in affidavit. In their respective counter affidavits filed in HC, the State and the Union governments admitted that the biography contains defamatory and perverse comments on Sri Aurobindo’s character, life, writings and thoughts, which are bound to affect the sentiments of lakhs of the spiritual leader’s followers. The affidavits came in the wake of a PIL filed in HC by a Balasore-based woman Gitanjali Bhattacharya seeking ban on the publication and circulation of the book in India.

Express News Service
First Published : 05 Mar 2009 03:58:00 AM IST
Last Updated : 05 Mar 2009 04:12:31 PM IST

CUTTACK: The Orissa Government is all set to ban the controversial biography ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobinda’, by Peter Heehs. The Government would invoke Section 95 of CrPc declaring the book, published by the Columbia University Press in USA and to be released by Penguin in India, forfeited on charges of containing defamatory content on the revolutionary and spiritual leader.

This has been informed to the Orissa High Court by Deputy Secretary of Home on the basis of an investigation conducted by the Crime Branch, CID wing of the State police. The CB after examining the content has suggested for action under Section 95 of CrPC to prevent circulation of such defamatory material. The publication and circulation of the book would outrage the religious feelings of the citizens of India and also attract several penal provisions under Sections 153 A, 292 and 295 A of Indian Penal Code, the Government submitted before the Court.

The HC earlier had imposed restrictions on publication of the book on the basis of a petition filed by one Gitanjali JB of Balasore. The division bench comprising Justice IM Quddusi and Justice SC Parija has now allowed withdrawal of the writ as the Government was taking action to prevent publication and circulation of the book. Gitanjali had alleged that the book was blasphemous and cast aspersions on the character and integrity of Sri Aurobinda, who is revered by billions in the country. Heehs, a founder of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives, has allegedly made defamatory comments on the personality of Sri Aurobinda pointing that his claims to spiritual experience and relations were questionable and irrelevant.

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