“Subjective perception about a book should not be allowed to enter a legal arena with regard to censorship,” the bench, also comprising Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud said.
The bench also said that the writer should be allowed to play with words like a painter who plays with colour. The apex court’s order came on a plea by Delhi resident N Radhakrishnan, who had sought to omit excerpts from the Malayalam novel Meesha written by S Hareesh.
Meesha, the serialised novel by Kerala writer S Hareesh which was withdrawn from a leading Malayalam weekly after protests by Hindutva outfits, has been published by DC Books. It is available in bookstores across the State. Ravi Deecee, CEO of DC Books, confirmed the move, affirming that the publisher always stood with its readers and its writers.
DC Books, a leading publisher in the State, announced on its Facebook page that it was happy to publish the novel in a book format after the writer approached it. “If Meesha doesn’t release today, it would become impossible to publish any literary work in Malayalam. We may have to seek permission from many people if we have to reprint works of writers like Basheer, VKN, Changampuzha, VT Bhattathiripad or any of the present writers today. That’s why we are taking the responsibility to publish Meesha. Expecting support from all of you,” the publisher said in a statement.
Meesha was withdrawn from the popular Mathrubhumi weekly magazine post the publication of three chapters after Hindu right-wing organisations launched a vicious attack on Hareesh and his family over a specific paragraph in the book. They insinuated that Hareesh, through the novel, was insulting temple-going Hindu women and their religious traditions. The writer received abusive messages and threats through social media and phone calls.
Mathrubhumi announced later that it was withdrawing the novel on request from the writer. Hareesh is the last year’s winner of the Kerala Sahitya Akademi Award for a short story.