Censorship

Over the years India has seen various books being banned for several reasons, ranging from defamation to offending religious sentiments of a community. The law commonly used to ban books/ prevent sale and production of certain books is Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, which confers powers on the State Government to ban a book if a book contains content that may "promote, or attempt to promote, enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, or disharmony, or feeling of enmity, hatred or ill-will between different religious groups and the publication of such matters is punishable under Section 153A of the Indian Penal Code." Section 153A of IPC provides punishments for acts which promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, among others.

We have curated a list that contains books that have been banned in India since independence of India, the data for which has been gathered from secondary sources mainly.

A lot of times, instances of censorship and banned books are not reported by the media, and therefore we are creating a citizen reporting mechanism. Write to us at mail@sflc.in or send us a DM on our twitter handle (@SFLCin) if you come across any book that has been banned in India.

 

S.No.

Name of the book

Author

Year

State

Description

  1.  

Godman to Tycoon: The Untold Story of Baba Ramdev

Priyanka Pathak

2017

Nationwide

It was banned on the ground that it was extremely defamatory in nature for the protagonist.

  1.  

Madhorubhagan

Perumal Murugan

Previously banned,currently available on E-Commerce websites.

Nationwide

It was alleged that the book contained materials that hurts the sentiments of the community, defamed women and outraged religious feelings. Subsequently after several protests, the author withdrew all the unsold copies of this novel. Petition were filed in the Madras High Court in order to ban the book but the petition was dismissed and book didn’t got banned.1

  1.  

Korkoi

Joe D’Cruz

2015

Nationwide

 

  1.  

Sahara: The Untold Story

Tamal Bandyopadhyay

2014

Nationwide

A stay order was ordered on the release of this book by the Calcutta High Court. Though the book was released, but with a disclaimer given by Sahara.

  1.  

The Descent of Air India

Jitendra Bhargava

2014

Nationwide

The author who worked for almost two decades with Air India brings out his insider view about the ground reality of the company. All the book was withdrawn later on by the publisher because of defamation charges.

  1.  

Santsurya Tukaram and Loksakha Dnyaneshwar

Anand Yadav

2014

Nationwide

A magistrate in Pune ordered to destroy the copies of these two novels which is based on the lives of Sant Dnyaneshwar and Sant Tukaram. It was alleged that the contents of these novels were defamatory.2

  1.  

The Hindus: An Alternative History

Wendy Doniger

2014

Nationwide

The book was withdrawn from the Indian market, prompting widespread concerns about the state of free speech in India. But after a period of twelve months, the book was republished under a different publisher.

  1.  

Dhundi

Yogesh Master

2013

Nationwide

Several Hindu organisations protested against this book and accused it to contain objectionable materials against god Ganesha.

  1.  

Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru

K. Senthil Mallar

2013

Tamil Nadu

It was alleged that certain contents in this book was abusive against other castes and in the nature of spreading hatred and disharmony. SO, the Madras HC ordered to make alterations in the book and lifted the forfeiture.3

  1.  

Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and his Struggle with India

Joseph Lelyveld

2011

Gujarat

It was interpreted and suggested in this biographical book that M.K. Gandhi was bisexual. Whereas according to the author the book only says that he was deeply attached to Kallenbach and did not explicitly stated that Gandhi was bisexual.4

  1.  

The Red Sari

Javier Moro

2010

Nationwide

Originally published in Spanish by the name ‘El Sari Rojo’, this book was alleged to be violating the privacy of a person for monetary gain. However, it was released in India in Jan, 2015 as it was not officially banned.

  1.  

Such a Long Journey

Rohinton Mistry

2010

Mumbai

Withdrawn by the Mumbai University from its Bachelor of Art (English) syllabus. The book allegedly contained anti-Shiv Sena passages and remarks derogatory to Maharastrians.5

  1.  

Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence

Jaswant Singh

2009

Gujarat

Banned for containing defamatory references to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.6

  1.  

The Life of Sri Aurobindo

Peter Heehs

2008

Nationwide

It was alleged that the book contains objectionable matters depicting distorted facts about the life and character of Sri Aurobindo. In 2004, a stay order was passed by the Odisha High Court on the release of the book.

  1.  

Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion

R.V. Bhasin

2007

Maharashtra

SC upheld the ban and said that the author had used insulting comments on Muslim community, which is an aggravated form of criticism and can hurt the religious sentiments of Muslims.7

  1.  

The Da Vinci Code

Dan Brown

2006

Nagaland

It was alleged that the novel could hurt the sentiments of the Christian beliefs. Ban was rejected by SC and several HCs .

  1.  

The True Furqan

Al Saffee & Al Mahdee

2005

Nationwide

Islamic groups declared the book as a Christian propaganda and claimed that it slyly mocked at Islam. Some even claimed it was a US-Israel pact to insult Islam.

Though it was essentially a Christian world versus Islam phenomenon, the Indian government took exception to it and banned its import.8

  1.  

Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India

James Laine

2004

Maharashtra

In 2004, this book was banned as it contained disparaging remarks about Chhatrapati Shivaji. But the ban was lifted in 2010 by the Supreme Court.9

  1.  

Lajja

Tasleema Nasreen

2003

West Bengal

Banned by the West Bengal government.10

  1.  

Dwikhandito

Taslima Nasreen

2003

West Bengal

Banned for allegedly hurting the sentiments of the Muslim community. On 22nd September, 2005, the Calcutta High Court lifted the ban.11

  1.  

Five Past Midnight in Bhopal

Dominique Lapierre and Javier Moro

2002

Nationwide

The book was banned after Swaraj Puri, the commissioner of Bhopal during that period, filed a defamation suit. Later, the ban was lifted by the Madhya Pradesh high court.12

  1.  

Bhavsagar Granth

Written by amost 30 authors under the direction of Baba Bhaniara

2001

Punjab

Banned by the Punjab government for hurting the religious feelings of Sikh community.13

  1.  

The Myth of the Holy Cow

Dwijendra Narayan Jha

2001

Nationwide

The book allegedly said that beef was eaten by ancient Indians. The author received anonymous threat calls and had to be provided a police escort.14

  1.  

Towards Freedom

Sumit Sarkar and K.N. Panikkar

2000

Nationwide

The publication of this book was temporarily withheld by the ICHR in 2000 because it portrayed Hindu Maha sabha in a bad light.

  1.  

The Moor’s Last Sigh

Salman Rushdie

1995

Nationwide

The Indian government placed a de facto ban on the novel, claiming that the fictional Ramar Fielding seemed to be a thinly veiled version of Bal Thackeray, one of India's most prominent Hindu nationalist politicians. But later in 1996, the ban was lifted by the Supreme Court.15

  1.  

Understanding Islam through Hadis

Ram Swarup

1991

Nationwide

It tackles the issues of political Islam. It was claimed that the book was offensive to Muslims.16

  1.  

Basava Vachana Deepti

Mate Mahadevi

1997

Nationwide

It was banned because she changed Basavanna’s pen name from ‘Kudalasangama Deva’ to ‘Linga Deva’.17

  1.  

Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada

Zuhair Kashmeri & Brian McAndrew

1989

Nationwide

The authors argue that Indian intelligence agencies, determined to discredit the Sikh bid for an independent state, penetrated not only Sikh communities but also the RCMP and CSIS. The book claims the government of India was involved in the plane's bombing.18

  1.  

The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani

Hamish McDonald

1988

Mumbai

Unofficial biography of late Dhirubhai Ambani. Banned for being slanderous against the Ambani family. Never got published in India.19

  1.  

The Satanic Verses

Salman Rushdie

1988

Nationwide

Banned by Rajiv Gandhi’s government.

  1.  

Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim

Sunanda K. Dattaray

1984

Nationwide

The book dealt with India's annexation of Sikkim. The Delhi High Court had stopped its publication after a political officer station in Gangtok at the time filed a defamation suit. The book was later allowed for release.20

  1.  

The Price of Power: Kissinger and Nixon in the White House

Seymour Hersh

1983

Nationwide

Banned for suggesting that Morarji Desai was a CIA informant.21

  1.  

Who Killed Gandhi

Lourenco De Sadvandor

1979

Nationwide

Considered to be “poorly researched” and “inflammatory”.22

  1.  

India Independent

Charles Bettelheim

1976

Nationwide

Banned for criticizing the policies of the Indian government.23

  1.  

Nehru: A Political Biography

Michael Edwards

1975

Nationwide

Government considered grievous factual errors in this book.24

  1.  

Early Islam

Desmond Stewart

1975

Nationwide

The book purportedly contains grievous factual errors.25

  1.  

Man from Moscow

Greville Wynne

1970

Nationwide

The book was banned for purportedly misrepresenting Indian policies.26

  1.  

A Struggle between two lines over the question of How to deal with U.S. imperialism.

Fan Asid-Chu

1969

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

The Jewel in the Lotus

Allen Edwardes

1968

Nationwide

Import prohibited absolutely.27

  1.  

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

D.H. Lawrence

1964

Nationwide

Banned on the grounds of obscenity.28

  1.  

An Area of Darkness

V.S. Naipaul

1964

Nationwide

Banned for its negative portrayal of India and its people.29

  1.  

Unarmed Victory

Bertrand Russell

1963

Nationwide

The book dealt with the Sino-Indian War which India lost.30

  1.  

Nepal

Toni Hagen

1963

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

  1.  

Ayesha

Kurt Frischler

1963

Nationwide

Cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Nine Hours to Rama

Stanley Wolpert

1962

 

 

 

 

 

 

Nationwide ban

The book was thought to be justifying the actions of Nathuram Godse who murdered Gandhi.

  1.  

The Lotus and the Rama

Arthur Koestler

1960

Nationwide

Criticized the Indian democracy. It cannot be imported into India. Also, this book has often been criticized as ill-researched.32

  1.  

The Heart of India

Alexander Campbell

1959

Nationwide ban

The book is a fictionalized and humorous account of Indian bureaucracy and economic policy-making.

  1.  

Captive Kashmir

Aziz Beg

1958

 

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Rama Retold or The Ramayana (American edn.)

Aubrey Menen

1956

Nationwide

It was a play which was a spoof of The Ramayana.33

  1.  

Dark Urge

Robert W. Taylor

1955

Nationwide

This book cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

What has religion done for mankind

Watchtower Bible and Tract Society

1955

Nationwide

This book tries to refute Eastern religions and cannot be imported into India.34

  1.  

Bhupat Singh

Kaluwank Ravatwank

1954

Nationwide

Not much info. is available

  1.  

Marka-e-Somnath

Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Hussain Sahab Sadiq Siddhiqui Sardanvi

1952

Nationwide

Written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.35

  1.  

Chandramohini

Ansar Nasiri

1952

Nationwide

 

  1.  

Pakistan-Pasmanzarwa Peshmanzar

Hameed Anwar

 

 

 

1950

Nationwide

Originally written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.36

  1.  

Cease-Fire

Agha Babar

1950

Nationwide

Originally written in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.

  1.  

Khak Aur Khoon

Naseem Hijazi

1950

Nationwide

This book portrays the true face of the Hindu fanaticism at the time of Independence when the Hindus tried to rob the Muslims who were trying to escape to Pakistan during the partition.

 

5The Guardian, “Mumbai University drops Rohinton Mistry novel after extremists complain”, See: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/oct/19/mumbai-university-removes…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

6The Hindu, “You can’t read this book”, See: http://www.thehindu.com/books/you-cant-read-this-book/article2953626.ece, last accessed on May 17, 2018

10Scoop Woop, “10 Books that were banned in India for various reasons”, See: https://www.scoopwhoop.com/inothernews/books-banned-in-india/#.sr5xttgtu, last accessed on May 17, 2018

19The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/s…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

21The Times of India, “Top 10 banned books in India”, See: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/life-style/books/nine-hours-to-rama…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

22 The Indian Express, “Who Killed Gandhi’: PIL in Bombay HC seeks revocation of ban on book”, See: http://indianexpress.com/article/india/who-killed-gandhi-pil-in-bombay-…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

23The Hindu, “You can’t read this book”, See: http://www.thehindu.com/books/you-cant-read-this-book/article2953626.ece, last accessed on May 17, 2018

24Business Standard, “Nilanjana S Roy: Banned books in India: 1970s-2006”, See: http://www.business-standard.com/article/opinion/nilanjana-s-roy-banned…, last accessed on May 17, 2018.

29The Economic Times, “Some books that met a ‘banned’ fate in India”, See: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/slideshows/advertising-marketing/s…, last accessed on May 17, 2018

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