AHMEDABAD:Expelled Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh finally has reason to smile with the Gujarat High Court Friday overturning the state government's ban on his book "Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence".
In the book, Jaswant Singh praises Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah and blames India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel for the partition.
A full-bench comprising Chief Justice K.S. Radhakrishnan, Justice Akil Kureshi and Justice K.M. Thaker, hearing a public interest petition, ruled against the state govenment ban on the book.
Singh said he was "thrilled, absolutely thrilled" by the high court judgement and added it was a positive reflection on the judiciary. But, he told CNN-IBN television channel, "one should not have to go to the court for this".
"I have not abused anybody, so why (ban the book)?" the former minister for finance, defence and external affairs said.
A stunned BJP-ruled Gujarat government said it would study the judgment before firming up its next course of action. State government spokesperson Jay Narayan Vyas said: "We would wait for (a copy of) the judgment and then a matured decision would be taken."
Asked if it was a defeat for the government, Vyas, also the state's health minister, told reporters: "It is neither a victory nor a defeat."
The state government led by Chief Minister Naredra Modi banned the book Aug 19, two days after it was released in New Delhi, on the day Singh was expelled from the party for his views on Jinnah.
Jay Narayan Vyas had initially justified the ban, saying the book had objectionable references to India's first home minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.
"Making any references to his (Patel's) role during those critical times without any evidence is an insult to the people of Gujarat, which we will not take lying down," Vyas had said.
Jaswant Singh has said Pakistan founder Mohammed Ali Jinnah was "demonised" in India, while it was actually India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru and first home minister Vallabhbhai Patel whose belief in a centralised polity had led to the partition of the subcontinent-sized country.
Human rights activists Manishi Jani and Prakash N. Shah had challenged the ban in the high court, saying the order was issued by the government without perusing the book.
"The bench noted that the ban was ordered without even studying the book," Anand Yagnik, senior advocate who represented the petitioners, told reporters.
Welcoming the ruling, Jani said: "We were concerned with the freedom of expression. Any reader has right to read the book."