Tag Archives: Free Speech in India

#youhadonejob: Or, A Quick Legal Primer for Publishers. Or, What (Not) to Do When Dinanath (and other busybodies) Strike

This post is co-authored by Aarti Sethi and Shuddhabrata Sengupta

Dinanath Batra is at it again. Not content with having bullied Penguin and Aleph into withdrawing Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus: An Alternative History”, and “On Hinduism”, respectively, he has now trained his guns on Orient Blackswan. And, in what seems to be emerging as a frighteningly predictable pattern, Orient Blackswan has succumbed to Dinanath Batra’s “legal suits”, not just by agreeing to consider the withdrawal of  a book that had attracted Batra’s attention, but also by withdrawing another book, on sexual violence during communal riots in Gujarat, as a ‘preventive measure’ regardless of the fact that it had not even been targeted by Batra and his organization. Clearly these are interesting times for publishing in India.

There is no need to rehash arguments on the importance of free speech and the circulation of books and words and texts. These have been extensively discussed here on Kafila, and everywhere else. At this stage it might be useful to simply clarify some pressing “legal” matters as there seems to be a bewildering confusion rife amongst publishers as to what exactly a legal notice is. Thus, to begin:

What a Legal Notice Is:

A Legal Notice is a grouse sent by registered post and has the same legal standing. Namely, none whatsoever. Any crank with half an hour, a typewriter and money for postage can send a legal notice to anyone about anything. You do not even have to get a lawyer to draft it. You just need a few minutes on the internet where pre-drafted forms are available for free. Or, just for fun, try drafting one yourself. Since it has no legal validity anyway, be creative! Continue reading #youhadonejob: Or, A Quick Legal Primer for Publishers. Or, What (Not) to Do When Dinanath (and other busybodies) Strike

Flashreads for Free Speech: Readings for 14 February

Let this 14 February be Free Speech Day – the text below comes to us via NILANJANA S. ROY; for more, see Akhond of Swat or follow #flashreads on Twitter. Flashreads are being organised across India – see Facebook event page.

Poster by Sanjay Sipahimalani


THE IDEA: To celebrate free speech and to protest book bans, censorship in the arts and curbs on free expression

WHY FEBRUARY 14? For two reasons. In 1989, the Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa ordering the death of Salman Rushdie for writing the Satanic Verses. In GB Shaw’’s words: “Assassination is the extreme form of censorship.” Continue reading Flashreads for Free Speech: Readings for 14 February

What Kapil Sibal does not understand: the internet

A  few days ago a friend asked me if I knew someone who had the ability and inclination to help out a certain department of the central government with using social media. My friend did not name who the prospective employer was, but clearly, with even Digvijay Singh on Twitter, the Congress party is worried about social media. No surprise that this should happen in a year when the UPA government’s popularity has taken a nose-dive.

The New York Times revealed on 5 December that Kapil Sibal summoned Facebook officials and showed them a Facebook page that allegedly maligned Congress president Sonia Gandhi and said that this was unacceptable. While HRD officials refused to reveal much in that NYT copy, they must have realised that shit has hit the fan, because the next morning’s Indian Express the spin doctoring was clear: there was now a mention of allegedly derogatory pictures of Prophet Mohammed along with the Prime Minister and the Congress President (who are no doubt as sacred in his books as Prophet Mohammed).By the time he held his press conference yesterday, it became about things that Hurt Our Religious Sentiments. On the 19th anniversary of the Babri Masjid demolition, it is very interesting to see a Congress minister using religion to cover up power politics.  Continue reading What Kapil Sibal does not understand: the internet