BENGALURU: No creative person should be foolish enough to mortgage his ideals to political parties or politicians, writer-historian Ramachandra Guha said on Saturday. Delivering a talk on ‘Eight Threats to Freedom of Expression’ at the Bangalore Literature Festival, he said it was tragic that writers identify themselves with a party and accused them of twisting facts. He also listed retention of archaic colonial laws, imperfections in judicial system, “rise and further rise of identity politics”, behaviour of police force, “pussilanimity or sheer malevolance of politicians”, dependence of media on government and ads as the threats. About seven to eight clauses in the Indian Penal Code are being “ubiquitously used” to ban books, films etc in the country. These clauses, which were introduced in 1835, must have been stuck down after Independence.
However, the clauses have only been strengthened in independent India, he said. The imperfections in judicial system, particularly in the lower courts, has allowed subordinate judges to be too eager to entertain petitions against bans, despite the fact that 99 per cent of these petitions had no legal standing, he said. “The icons of each religion, caste and community have become impeccable and above criticism (during the period)”, he said. Guha, who had decided against participating in BLF owing to other commitments, had recently agreed to take part. His decision came after a few authors withdrew from the festival.