CUTTACK: The petition filed by Peter Heehs, author of ‘The Lives of Sri Aurobindo’, in the Orissa High Court challenging the ban imposed by the State government on the book has been finally dismissed after nine years.
The Columbia University Press in USA had published the biography. A gazette notification on the ban by the State government was published on April 9, 2009. Heehs had filed the petition seeking quashing of the ban in 2012.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar, Justice CR Dash and Justice BP Routray dismissed the petition on Thursday as it was filed more than two years after the ban was notified.
The bench endorsed the government’s contention that norms prescribed filing of such petitions within a maximum period of two months of notification of an order, but the petition was filed after over two years.
In a written note submitted on April 7, the government had also contended that the author had clearly and intentionally overstepped his historian credentials (colonial bias) which promote communal disaffection affecting public peace and tranquillity.
In 2008, a petition seeking intervention against publication of the book in India was filed in the Orissa High Court. Balasore-based Gitanjali Devi filed the petition alleging that the author had in the guise of a biography cast aspersions on the Sri Aurobindo’s image as a sage.
On November 4, 2008, the Court imposed restrictions on publication of the biography without obtaining a ‘no objection certificate’ from the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry and the Union Home Ministry. The Court also asked the State CID-Crime Branch to carry out an investigation.
In March 2009, the State Home department informed the Court that the State government had decided to enforce a ban on the book as CID-Crime Branch reports indicated that circulation of the book would outrage the religious feelings of the people. The government published the gazette notification on the ban on April 9, 2009.