List of books banned in India

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This is a list of books or any specific textual material that have been or are banned in India or parts of India.

Nationwide[edit]

This section lists books that are banned or once faced a nationwide ban in India (including in British India).

Date Work Author Notes
1910 Aaril Oru Pangu Subramania Bharati In 1910 this short story was written by Subramania Bharati and published it himself at a price of three ‘anas'. It was the first short story of Tamil Language [1]
1924 Rangila Rasul Anonymous[1] In May 1924, this Urdu booklet was published in Lahore. The booklet purportedly described Prophet Muhammad's relationship with women. The publisher, Raj Pal,[2] was charged under 153A of the Indian Penal Code for hate speech by the Punjab government. The final disposition came in May 1927.[2] The court declared that law does not prohibit satirical writings about the deceased and the publisher was acquitted with a warning.[1][3] On 6 April 1929, the publisher was murdered.[3][4] The murderer, a Muslim youth named Ilm-ud-din, was sentenced to death and the sentenced was carried out on 31 October 1929.[5]
1934 Hindu Heaven Max Wylie It cannot be brought into India.[6] Max Wylie, the creator The Flying Nun TV show, researched this book while teaching in Lahore.[7] The novel questioned the work of American missionaries in India.[8][9] It also dealt with the harsh effects of the climate on the missionaries.[10]
1933 Angaray Various This collection of stories by Sajjad Zaheer, Ahmed Ali, Rashid Jahan and Mahmud-uz-Zafar was published in 1932. It drew protests from Muslim religious leaders.[11] In 1933, it was banned by the British colonial government.[9]
1936 The Face of Mother India Katherine Mayo It cannot be imported into India.[6] This illustrated book was famously called "the report of a drain inspector" by Mahatma Gandhi.[12]
1936 Old Soldier Sahib Frank Richards The book cannot be imported into India.[6] The book is a memoir of the author's time in British India as a veteran soldier.[9]
1937 The Land of the Lingam Arthur Miles It cannot be imported into India.[6] The book is about Hinduism, caste and phallicism.[13]
1940 Mysterious India Moki Singh The book cannot be imported into India.[6] The book purportedly contained stereotypes.[14]
1945 The Scented Garden: Anthropology of the Sex Life in the Levant Bernhard Stern This book cannot be imported into India.[15] This is a book about sexual practices and marriage rites of the people of Middle East (Levant).[16] The book was allegedly sexually explicit.[14]
1950 Pakistan-Pasmanzarwa Peshmanzar Hameed Anwar This book, originally in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1950 Cease-Fire Agha Babar This book, originally in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1950 Khak Aur Khoon Nusseim Hajazi This book, originally in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1952 Chadramohini This book, originally in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1952 Marka-e-Somnath Maulana Muhammad Sadiq Hussain Sahab Sadiq Siddiqui Sardanvi This book, originally in Urdu, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1954 Bhupat Singh Kaluwank Ravatwank This book, originally in Gujarati, cannot be imported into India.[15]
1954 What has Religion done for Mankind This book cannot be imported into India.[15] This is a book published by the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society.[17] This book tries to refute Eastern religions.[18]
1955 Rama Retold Aubrey Menen This book cannot be imported into India.[15] It was a play[19] which was a spoof of the Ramayana.[20] It was one of the first books to be banned in independent India.[19] The American edition was simply called The Ramayana.[20]
1955 Dark Urge Robert W. Taylor This book cannot be imported into India.[15]
1958 Captive Kashmir Aziz Beg This book cannot be imported into India.[21]
1959 The Heart of India Alexander Campbell This book cannot be imported into India.[21] Alexander Campbell was Time magazine's New Delhi correspondent. The book is a fictionalized and humorous account of Indian bureaucracy and economic policies.[22]
1960 The Lotus and the Robot Arthur Koestler This book contains the author's experiences in India and Japan. The book was highly critical of the cultures of both nations.[23] The book was banned for its negative portrayal of Gandhi.[24]
1962 Nine Hours to Rama Stanley Wolpert This book cannot be imported into India.[21] The book and the movie based on it, both were banned in India. The book was thought to be justifying the actions of Nathuram Godse who murdered Gandhi.[25] The book also points to the lapse in security.[14][22]
1963 Nepal Toni Hagen This book cannot be imported into India.[21]
1963 Ayesha Kurt Frischler This book cannot be imported into India.[21] The original German title was Aischa: Mohammed's Lieblingfrau (Aischa: Mohammed's Favorite Wife).[26]
1963 Unarmed Victory Bertrand Russell The book dealt with the Sino-Indian War which India lost.[27]
1964 An Area of Darkness V. S. Naipaul Banned for its negative portrayal of India and its people.[22]
1968 The Jewel in the Lotus Allen Edwardes This book cannot be imported into India.[21] Allen Edwardes was the pen-name of a scholar who wrote on Middle East and Oriental erotica.
1969 The Evolution of the British Empire and Commonwealth from the American Revolution Alfred LeRoy Burt This book cannot be imported into India.[28]
1969 A Struggle between two lines over the question of How to Deal with U.S. Imperialism Hsiu-chu Fan This book cannot be imported into India.[28]
1970 Man from Moscow Greville Wynne This book cannot be imported into India.[28] Greville Wynne was a courier for the British Secret Intelligence Service (MI6). The book is about his involvement with Oleg Penkovsky.[29] The book was banned for purportedly misrepresenting Indian policies.[23]
1975 Early Islam Desmond Stewart This book cannot be imported into India.[28] The book purportedly contained grievous factual errors.[23]
1975 Nehru: A Political Biography Michael Edwards This book cannot be imported into India.[28] The book purportedly contained grievous factual errors.[23]
1976 India Independent Charles Bettelheim This book cannot be imported into India.[28] It was banned for criticising the policies of the Indian government.[22]
1978 China’s Foreign Relations Since 1949 Alan Lawrence This book cannot be imported into India.[28]
1979 Who killed Gandhi Lourenço de Salvador This book cannot be imported into India.[28] The book was considered inflammatory and ill-researched.[22][23]
1983 The Price of Power: Kissinger and Nixon in the White House Seymour Hersh Briefly banned for alleging Morarji Desai to be a CIA informer.[22] The book claimed that Morarji Desai was paid 20,000 USD per year, starting from the time of Lyndon B. Johnson. Desai obtained an injunction from the Bombay High Court for a temporary ban and sued for damages worth 5 million USD in US.[30]
1984 Smash and Grab: Annexation of Sikkim Sunanda K. Datta-Ray The book dealt with India's annexation of Sikkim. The Delhi High Court had stopped its publication after a political officer station in Gangtok at the time filed a defamation suit. The book was later allowed for release.[31][32]
1988 The Satanic Verses Salman Rushdie This book cannot be imported into India.[33] Import ban was imposed after Muslim groups protested that it was blasphemous and hurt their religious sentiments.[22] India was the first country to ban this book.[23]
1989 Soft Target: How the Indian Intelligence Service Penetrated Canada Zuhair Kashmeri
and
Brian McAndrew
The book claims that the Indian intelligence agencies penetrated the Canadian Sikh community, Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) in order to discredit the demand for a separate Sikh state.[34]
1991 Understanding Islam through Hadis Ram Swarup The book, originally published in 1982, was banned for its critique of political Islam.[27]
2005 The True Furqan Al Saffee, Al Mahdee Banned for purportedly mocking Islam.[22] The book has been allegedly written by a Christian evangelical group to proselytise Muslims.[23] The import of this book is strictly prohibited.[35]
2014 Santsurya Tukaram
and
Loksakha Dnyaneshwar
Anand Yadav A Pune court ordered the copies of the books to be destroyed in June 2014. The complaint Jaisingh More had claimed that the book was derogatory to Tukaram and Dnyaneshwar. The publishers defended the book and the author's daughter stated that they will appeal in a higher court.[36]

Statewide[edit]

This section lists books that were banned by a state government. The Section 95 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 allows the state governments to declare any publication as forfeit.[37]

Date Work Author State(s) Notes
1944 Satyarth Prakash Dayananda Saraswati Sindh Satyartha Prakash was banned in some princely states and in Sindh in 1944 and is still banned in Sindh.[38] In 2008 two Indian Muslims, Usman Ghani and Mohammad Khalil Khan of Sadar Bazar, Delhi, following the fatwa of Mufti Mukarram Ahmed, the Imam of Fatehpuri Masjid in Delhi, urged the Delhi High Court to ban Satyarth Prakash.[39] However, the court dismissed the petition and commented "A suit by Hindus against the Quran or by Muslims against Gita or Satyarth Prakash claiming relief... are in fact, meant to play mischief in the society."[40]
1969 Ramayana: A True Reading Periyar E. V. Ramasamy Uttar Pradesh The Hindi version of the book, Sachchi Ramayana, was banned by the state government and all copies were seized in December 1969. The publisher challenged the decision in the Allahabad High Court. The court nullified the ban and asked the government to return all copies to the publisher. The state government challenged the High Court in the Supreme Court. On 16 September 1976, Supreme Court declared the ban to be illegal. However, the government ignored the court decisions and managed to stop sales of the book, until 1995. In 1995, after the political party Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came to power, the book was widely published for the Periyar mela held in September 1995.[41]
2001 Bhavsagar Granth Followers of Baba Bhaniara Punjab Banned by Parkash Singh Badal-led Punjab government in 2001 for allegedly insulting the Sikh faith. The state arrested the people who were found in possession of the book, and confiscated its copies.[42] In November 2008, the Supreme Court of India overturned the ban, stating that the Punjab government was allowed to issue a fresh ban, if needed.[43] The Punjab Government then banned the book on 15 December 2008.[44]
2003 Dwikhandito Taslima Nasrin West Bengal The CPI(M) government banned the book on 28 November 2003 fearing that book could incite communal discord.[45] In November 2003, the Calcutta High Court put out an injunction against publication after a poet, Syed Hasmat Jalal, filed an 11 crore INR defamation suit.[46] On 22 September 2005, the court lifted the ban.[47]
2004 Shivaji: Hindu King in Islamic India James Laine Maharashtra On January 2004, a mob alleging disparaging remarks made about Shivaji attacked Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute where Laine had researched the book. Several rare manuscripts were destroyed in the process.[48] On 14 January, the state government run by the Congress Party under Sushil Kumar Shinde banned the book.[49] In 2007, the Bombay High Court revoked the ban.[50] The state government challenged the decision in the Supreme Court. Supreme Court upheld the previous decision and lifted the ban in 2010.[51]
2006 The Epic of Shivaji: A Translation and Study of Kavindra Paramananda’s Sivabharata James Laine Maharashtra The book was banned for allegedly containing derogatory references on grounds that it could cause a law and order problem.[52]
2006 The Da Vinci Code Dan Brown Nagaland The book was banned by the government for allegedly containing blasphemous remarks about Jesus.[53]
2007 Islam: A Concept of Political World Invasion R. V. Bhasin Maharashtra The book was released in 2003. It was banned by the Congress government in 2007 ground that it contained derogatory remarks about Islam and Prophet Mohammad.[54] In 2010, Bombay High Court upheld the ban.[55] The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court but it rejected the appeal.[54]
2009 Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence Jaswant Singh Gujarat Banned in Gujarat but overturned.[22] The book was on banned on 19 August 2009,[56] for containing defamatory references to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel.[57] Jaswant Singh was also expelled from his political party, BJP, for writing this book.[58] On 4 September, the Gujarat High Court revoked the ban.[56][59]
2011 Great Soul: Mahatma Gandhi and His Struggle With India Joseph Lelyveld Gujarat The biographical book suggested that Gandhi was a bisexual.[60] It is banned in the state of Gujarat (where Gandhi was born) on 31 March 2011.[61] The Union Law Minister Veerappa Moily hinted that the Centre may also ban the book. Gandhi's grandsons, Tushar Gandhi,[62] Rajmohan Gandhi[63] and Gopalkrishna Gandhi,[64] expressed opposition to the ban proposal. On 4 April, Moily ruled out the ban.[65]
2013 Meendezhum Pandiyar Varalaru (Resurgence of Pandiyan History) K. Senthil Mallar Tamil Nadu The Tamil Nadu government banned this Tamil book on 30 May 2013 on grounds that it may cause violence and promote discord among communities. The book allegedly claims the Dalit community called Pallar, were among the rulers of the Pandya kingdom. The author has appealed in the Madras High Court against the ban.[66][67]

Other challenged books[edit]

This section lists books that have been legally challenged to impose a ban or to exclude from a syllabus. Some books listed here are unavailable or were unavailable for some time in India or parts of it, due to pending court decisions or voluntary withdrawal by the publishers.

Date Work Author Notes
1892 Risala-i-Jihad Pandit Lekh Ram Pandit Lekh Ram's Risala-i-Jihad was challendged and a ban was attempted.[68] Risala-i-Jihad ya'ri Din-i-Muhammad ki Bunyad (A Treatise on waging holy war, or the foundation of the Muhammadan Religion) caused a considerable outcry, when it was published in 1892. Until his murder by a Muslim five years later, Lekh Ram continued to stir up animosity by his vituperative writings."[69]
1985 Quran Religious text On July 20, 1984, H.K. Chakraborty wrote to the Secretary, Department of Home Government of West Bengal, demanding the ban of the Quran. Chakraborty thereafter with Chandmal Chopra wrote to the Department of Home Government of West Bengal on March 16, 1985.[70] Chopra then filed a writ Petition at the High Court. Chandmal Chopra tried to obtain an order banning the Koran, by filing a Writ Petition at the Calcutta High Court on 29 March 1985. The petition claimed that Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code, and Section 95 of the Criminal Procedure Code were often used by Muslims to ban or proscribe publications critical of Islam, and stated that "so far it had been the privilege of the Peoples of the Book to ban and burn the sacred literature of the Pagans."[70] Chandmal Chopra thought that the Koran "on grounds of religion promotes disharmony, feeling of enmity, hatred and ill-will between different religious communities and incite people to commit violence and disturb public tranquility..." The Telegraph of May 9, 1985 reported that the Union Government would make itself a party in the case, and the Union law minister Ashoke Sen and the attorney-general of the Government of India were going to take action against the case.[71] Muslim lawyers after a meeting condemned the case. According to The Telegraph of May 10, the Chief Minister of West Bengal called the petition "a despicable act". Other politicians in the Lok Sabha at New Delhi, and the Minister of State for Law condemned the Petition.[72] Pakistan’s minister of state for religious and minority affairs claimed that the petition was the ‘worst example of religious intolerance’, and he urged the Indian government to ‘follow the example of Pakistan’ in ensuring freedom of religion.[73] The petition was however dismissed in May 1985. The Attorney-General of the Government of India and the Advocate-General of West Bengal appeared in the case and argued against Chopra's petition. On June 18, 1985 Chandmal Chopra filed a review petition, which was dismissed on June 21.[70][74][75]
1993 Hindu View of Christianity and Islam Ram Swarup Ram Swarup's Hindu View of Christianity and Islam was challenged by Syed Shahabuddin (who previously successfully managed to get the Satanic Verses banned). Indian authorities were to impose a ban on the book, Syed Shahabuddin asked that the government have the book examined "from the point of view of banning it under the law of the land."[76][77][78]
1995 The Moor's Last Sigh Salman Rushdie The book contained a character resembling Balasaheb Thackeray, the leader of the right-wing party Shiv Sena. The book faced protests from the party. The book also contained a dog named, Jawaharlal, named after India's first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Prime Minister P. V. Narasimha Rao unofficially banned the book. In September 1995, the local publishers Rupa & Co. were asked to stop selling the book while it was being reviewed. Rupa & Co. decided to approach the Supreme Court of India in response.[79] The court the declared the ban unconstitutional in February 1996.[80] However, book sellers were reluctant to stock the book in Maharashtra, the home of Shiv Sena, due to the fear of vandalism.[81]
1997 The God of Small Things Arundhati Roy A lawyer named Sabu Thomas from Kerala filed an obscenity case against the author, claiming that Chapter 21 contains obscene scenes.[82]
1998 The Polyester Prince: The Rise of Dhirubhai Ambani Hamish McDonald This unofficial biography of Dhirubhai Ambani never went to print because Harper Collins anticipated legal action from the Ambani family.[22][83]
2000 Towards Freedom Sumit Sarkar
and
K. N. Panikkar
The 10-volume history book project was halted by the Indian Council of Historical Research in early 2000, allegedly because it showed Hindu Mahasabha in a badlight. The project was revived in 2004.[84]
2001 Holy Cow: Beef in Indian Dietary Traditions Dwijendra Narayan Jha A preview of the book was posted on a website initially which triggered the controversy.[85][86] A spokesperson for the Vishwa Hindu Parishad[85] stated that the book was an attempt to insult Hindus. The book allegedly said that beef was eaten by ancient Indians. The author received anonymous threat calls and had to be provided a police escort.[86][87] A civil court in Andhra Pradesh put a temporary stay order on the book until verdict.[87] Pushpesh Pant[85] supported the book by stating that the evidence exists in historical and mythological texts. The book is also known as The Myth of the Holy Cow.[86]
2002 Five Past Midnight in Bhopal Dominique Lapierre
and
Javier Moro
The book is a dramatized account of the Bhopal disaster. In 2002, Swaraj Puri filed a defamation suit against the authors worth 10 million USD. Puri, who was the police commissioner of Bhopal during the disaster is mentioned in the book.[88][89] In 2009, the court put an order to halt publication of the book.[88][89] But, the Madhya Pradesh High Court revoked the order later.[90]
2008 The Lives of Sri Aurobindo Peter Heehs On 5 November 2004, the Odisha High Court put a stay order on the release of the book, after a petition was filed.[91] The petitioner alleged that the book is blasphemous in nature and defamatory regarding Sri Aurobindo's character.[91][92]
2010 The Red Sari (El Sari Rojo) Javier Moro The book was originally published in October 2010[93] in Spanish. The book is a fictional[93] novel allegedly based on Sonia Gandhi. Moro claimed that Congress lawyers and spokesperson Abhishek Singhvi had written to his publishers demanding them to withdraw the book from shops.[93][94] Abhishek Singhvi claimed that the book violated a person's privacy for monetary gain.[95] The book was finally released in India in January 2015.[96]
2010 Such A Long Journey Rohinton Mistry On 4 October 2010, this 1990 Booker nominated book was removed from the Bachelor of Arts (English) syllabus of the Mumbai University, after Bharatiya Vidyarthi Sena, the student-wing of the Shiv Sena protested. The book allegedly contained anti-Shiv Sena passages and remarks derogatory to Maharastrians.[97][98] The protests were led by Aditya Thackeray.[97] Mistry later expressed his dismay in an open letter to the university.[97]
2013 Dhundi Yogesh Master The author of the Kannada novel was arrested on 29 August 2013, after several Hindu organisations accused the book of containing objectionable material against the god Ganesha. The author was charged under Section 295 A and 298 of the Indian Penal Code.[99] The complaint was filed by Sri Ram Sene leader Pramod Muthalik, and others.[100]
2014 Sahara: The Untold Story Tamal Bandyopadhyay Sahara India Pariwar moved Calcutta High Court in December 2013 seeking a stay and filed a Rs. 200 crore defamation suit against the author. In January 2014, a stay order was issued by the court. In April, both the parties reached an out of court settlement following which the book was published with a disclaimer given by Sahara.[101][102]
2014 The Descent of Air India Jitendra Bhargava The publisher, Bloomsbury India, agreed to withdraw all copies of the book, after former Aviation Minister Praful Patel filed a defamation suit in a Mumbai court. The publisher also issued a public apology.[103][104]
2015 Madhorubhagan
(One Part Woman)
Perumal Murugan The writer asked publishers to withdraw all his books from the market and announced that he was giving up writing on 13 January 2015.[105] The BJP, RSS and other Hindu groups had protested his book, and demanded its ban and his arrest. They had alleged that he had portrayed the Kailasanathar temple in Tiruchengode and its women devotees in bad light. The English translation of the book is known as One Part Woman.[106]
2015 Korkai Joe D'Cruz A complaint was filed against the author in June 2015 in a Thoothukudi, Tamil Nadu court alleging the novel had portrayed fishermen, Christianity, priests and nuns in bad light.[107]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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