‘We should not have a culture of banning books’: CJI on ‘Meesha’ controversy

The novel was earlier withdrawn from the periodical Mathrubhumi after right-wing groups protested against it.
‘We should not have a culture of banning books’: CJI on ‘Meesha’ controversy
‘We should not have a culture of banning books’: CJI on ‘Meesha’ controversy
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Author S Hareesh’s novel Meesha has been at the heart of a raging controversy in Kerala. A plea was filed with the Supreme Court against the book, citing that ‘temple going Hindu women’ were shown in a bad light in his story, which was being published as a serial in Mathrubhumi.

The court hears the petition filed by Usha Nandini, an advocate, on Thursday. “The aforesaid publication caused public outburst and protests across the nation, especially in the State of Kerala as the matter was published in Malayalam. Post the publication of the article, Hindu women visiting temples were subjected to ridicule and embarrassment through various social media platforms. Trolls, which appeared and were circulated on social media, have caused deep pain and anguish to the temple-going Hindu believers,” the petition read.

However, Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra observed that there should not be a culture of banning books unless it depicted something obscene and improper. The CJI also noted that the controversial portion is merely sarcastic dialogue between two characters.

Meanwhile, Justice Chandrachud questioned whether the book should be shelved for a simple two paragraphs.

Furthermore, the Supreme Court has directed Mathrubhumi to submit an English translation of two chapters of the novel within five days.

The novel, Meesha, was being published in the Malayalam periodical Mathrubhumi in a serialised form. The portion of the book published on July 11 stirred up the controversy.

Following threats from right-wing groups in the state, who alleged that the story showed depicted temple-going women in a bad light and made casteist slurs against Brahmin priests, novelist S Hareesh withdrew the novel.

“I have decided to withdraw my novel because of the threats and attacks against me and my family,” Hareesh had earlier told the Mathrubhumi News television channel, “I am too weak to take on the people who rule the country. I worked on the novel for five long years,” the writer added.

He has since received support from several quarters, including from Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan. In fact, after the novel was withdrawn from Mathrubhumi, it has been published as a book by DC books, and is available in bookstores across Kerala.

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