HC conditions for release of book
Author peter heehs has reportedly made defamatory remarks on Aurobindo’s character in the book
Express News service Cuttack, November, 4
THE controversial biography ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’ by Peter Heehs has been engulfed by another storm prior to its release in India by Penguin Books India Ltd with the Orissa High Court imposing restrictions on its publication.
The division bench comprising Justice IM Quddisi and Justice BP Ray today instructed the publishers not to release the book until it obtains no objection certificates from the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Union Home Ministry. The book, which has been already published by Columbia University Press in USA, was slated to be released by Penguin in India this month.
The bench also directed the Union I&B Ministry to thoroughly examine the contents of the book in terms of containing defamatory comments and insinuations against the revolutionary and spiritual leader held in high esteem in the country. A report should be submitted before the Court by December 15, which has been fixed as the next date of hearing on the issue. Affidavits have also been sought from the Government and different sections including the publisher on the book.
The directions came in response to a petition filed by Gitanjali Devi, wife of one Jayant Bhattacharjee of Balasore, alleging that the book was blasphemous in nature. Under the guise of a biography, the writer had cast aspersions on the life and character of the philosopher, sage, poet and freedom fighter.
Appearing for the petitioner, counsel Milan Kanungo said that the author who claimed to be a scholar and one of the founders of the Sri Aurobindo Ashram Archives had resorted to gross falsity about one of the tallest sons of the country.
Heehs had made defamatory remarks on Sri Aurobindo’s character and integrity and that his claims to spiritual experience and relations were questionable and irrelevant. The author had also made extremely unacceptable descriptions about Sri Aurobindo through out the book spanning pages 25, 28, 54, 55, 199, 203, 245, the petitioner alleged. The petitioner has appealed for a ban on the book, Kanungo said. 7:18 AM HC brakes on biography