New Delhi, Feb 23 IANS | 8 months ago

Penguin India, which recently withdrew American author Wendy Doniger's book on Hinduism, has been urged to approach higher courts to establish a strong precedent of upholding freedom of expression.

A group of academicians and authors Sunday said they were forwarding a petition concerning the withdrawal of the book along with all signatures collected so far to the Penguin India management and appropriate authorities in the government.

"We have received close to 3,500 signatures to the petition in 10 days, including from prominent scholars, writers, journalists and publishers around the world, as well as several Penguin authors.

"We are today forwarding the petition, along with all signatures collected thus far, to the management of Penguin India and to the appropriate authorities in the government," said a release signed by 10 authors and academicians, including Romila Thapar and Ashis Nandy.

Penguin India withdrew from publication the American professor's book on Hinduism in an out-of-court settlement which ignited a debate on freedom of speech in India.

The withdrawal came earlier this month after the publishers went for a settlement with Dinanath Batra of the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Committee who filed a civil suit and two criminal complaints.

The academicians and authors demanded that "Penguin Random House contest the suit through higher courts, to ensure that a strong precedent upholding freedom of expression be established".

They also demanded that the lawmakers "undertake a revision of the sections of the Indian Penal Code under which the suit was brought so as to protect works of serious academic and artistic merit from motivated, malicious and frivolous litigation".

(Posted on 23-02-2014)

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