[INDOLOGY] Public statement from Wendy Doniger

Bijlert, V.A. van v.a.van.bijlert at vu.nl
Wed Feb 12 05:43:24 EST 2014


Perhaps as an unrelated but interesting piece of information for everyone, including sympathisers with the Sangh Parivar: the IPC, Indian Penal Code, on the basis of which this case is conducted, was drafted by none other than the notorious lord Macaulay. The same colonial law is still in force even if with some amendments. If I'm given a little time I can dig up the relevant articles.
Yours


________________________________

Dr. Victor A. van Bijlert
Associate professor Religious Studies
Department of Philosophy of Religion and Comparative Study of Religions
Faculty of Theology, VU University
De Boelelaan 1105, NL-1081 HV Amsterdam, The Netherlands
v.a.van.bijlert at vu.nl<mailto:v.a.van.bijlert at vu.nl>
+31613184203
________________________________
From: INDOLOGY [indology-bounces at list.indology.info] on behalf of Dominik Wujastyk [wujastyk at gmail.com]
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 11:30 AM
To: Lubin, Tim
Cc: Indology
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Public statement from Wendy Doniger

This is very interesting, Tim.  Thank you!

So the laws are aimed at punishing deliberately provocative offences that are explicitly designed to promote communal or religious disharmony.  The laws are not framed in a manner that depends on the assertion of a member of a community that their feelings have been hurt or they have been offended.

I would have thought that it would be trivially easy to demonstrate under these laws that The Hindus: An Alternative History was not published as a deliberate act of communal provocation.  Why did Penguin India feel cornered?

Best,
Dominik Wujastyk


--
Dr Dominik Wujastyk
Department of South Asia, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies<http://stb.univie.ac.at>,
University of Vienna,
Spitalgasse 2-4, Courtyard 2, Entrance 2.1
1090 Vienna, Austria
and
Adjunct Professor,
Division of Health and Humanities,
St. John's Research Institute,<http://www.sjri.res.in/> Bangalore, India.
Project<http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/caraka/> | home page<http://www.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk> | HSSA<http://hssa.sayahna.org> | PGP<http://wujastyk.net/pgp.html>





On 11 February 2014 22:25, Lubin, Tim <LubinT at wlu.edu<mailto:LubinT at wlu.edu>> wrote:
Article 295A was inserted in 1927 through passage of the Criminal Law Amendment Act (Act 25 of 1927), and the wording revised (the part bracketed with note 7: "by signs" and "or otherwise" added) in 1961.

This circumstances of this legislation were described in 1934 by Sir H. P. Dastur, Chief Presidency Magistrate of Bombay, in his ruling on a the "Reason Case" (1933), a blasphemy case against a rationalist for his articles in a periodical called "Reason" (the case was dismissed as not falling under the terms of 295A because the author's intent was not malicious -- the same may be said of Prof. Doniger!):

"Section 295-A....was introduced by the Criminal Law Amendment Act 25 of 1927 in consequence of the decision..in what is known as the Rangila Rasul case, in which it was held that section 153-A was not meant to stop polemics against a deceased religious leader however scurrilous and in bad taste such attacks may be.

"Any criticism, and particularly a vigorous criticism, of any religious belief is bound to hurt or insult the religious feelings of the class of people professing that faith...

"As however, that would stifle all honest attempts to introduce social reforms, Legislature has not made a mere intent to insult the religious feelings of any class of His Majesty's subjects, penal under this section. It requires that that should be deliberate intention of the writer and ... "malicious".... "
(The Rangila Rasul case had to do with scurrilous pamphlet about the Prophet Muhammad and his wives…  see:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rangila_Rasul )

Article 153A, cited here, is as follows:

153A. 1[ Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony.--
(1)<http://indiankanoon.org/doc/811548/> Whoever-
(a)<http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1102504/> by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise, promotes or attempts to promote, on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, caste or community or any other ground whatsoever, disharmony or feelings of enmity, hatred or ill- will between different religious, racials, language or regional groups or castes or communities, or
(b)<http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1361857/> commits any act which is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, racial, language or regional groups or castes or communities, and which disturbs or is likely to disturb the public tranquillity, 2[ or]
(c)<http://indiankanoon.org/doc/775009/> 2[ organizes any exercise, movement, drill or other similar activity intending that the participants in such activity shall use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, or participates in such activity intending to use or be trained to use criminal force or violence or knowing it to be likely that the participants in such activity will use or be trained to use criminal force or violence, against any religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community and such activity for any reason whatsoever causes or is likely to cause fear or alarm or a feeling of insecurity amongst members of such religious, racial, language or regional group or caste or community,] shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both.
(2)<http://indiankanoon.org/doc/308260/> Offence committed in place of worship, etc.-- Whoever commits an offence specified in sub- section (1) in any place of worship or in any assembly engaged in the performance of religious worship or religious ceremonies, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to five years and shall also be liable to fine.]

Tim

Timothy Lubin
Professor of Religion
Washington and Lee University
Lexington, Virginia 24450

http://home.wlu.edu/~lubint
http://wlu.academia.edu/TimothyLubin
http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/cf_dev/AbsByAuth.cfm?per_id=930949





From: Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com<mailto:wujastyk at gmail.com>>
Date: Tuesday, February 11, 2014 3:43 PM
To: George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com<mailto:gthomgt at gmail.com>>
Cc: Indology <INDOLOGY at list.indology.info<mailto:INDOLOGY at list.indology.info>>
Subject: Re: [INDOLOGY] Public statement from Wendy Doniger

Dear George,

At first I was furious with Penguin India, but having read Wendy's account of how they fought for her book, I have revised my opinion.  I learned with astonishment about the Indian law that criminalizes the publisher of a book that causes offence to any Hindu.  It is simply incredible, as a piece of law.

So, I think Wendy is probably right, and the culprit is the Indian Penal Code.

http://indiankanoon.org/doc/1803184/ :
Central Government Act
Section 295A in The Indian Penal Code, 1860
295A. 5[ Deliberate and malicious acts intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.-- Whoever, with deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of any class of 6[ citizens of India], 7[ by words, either spoken or written, or by signs or by visible representations or otherwise] insults or attempts to insult the religion or the religious beliefs of that class, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to 8[ three years], or with fine, or with both.]

I am no historian of law.  But this looks to me as though it was framed by the British administration, shortly after the Rebellion.

However inappropriate the application of this law to modern scholarly publishing, I remain incredulous that the court decided that it could be established that Wendy showed "deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feeling."

I am not sure what action would be appropriate in this case.  In the USA, a petition against the book was signed by 10k people.  Again, I suppose we could try a petition, but it would not make any difference, and the number of indologists is smaller by several orders than the number of Hindus.

I think the deeper issue here is the fact that an ignorant person (or persons) who does not have sufficient specialist education to understand a particular book is nevertheless able to bring a case that is taken seriously by an Indian court and leads to the banning of that book.  Imagine an uneducated farmer taking exception to the work of a nuclear physicist.  Would a court say that the physicist should not do his research or publish his findings?

Best,
Dominik


--
Dr Dominik Wujastyk
Department of South Asia, Tibetan and Buddhist Studies<http://stb.univie.ac.at>,
University of Vienna,
Spitalgasse 2-4, Courtyard 2, Entrance 2.1
1090 Vienna, Austria
and
Adjunct Professor,
Division of Health and Humanities,
St. John's Research Institute,<http://www.sjri.res.in/> Bangalore, India.
Project<http://www.istb.univie.ac.at/caraka/> | home page<http://www.academia.edu/DominikWujastyk> | HSSA<http://hssa.sayahna.org> | PGP<http://wujastyk.net/pgp.html>





On 11 February 2014 20:55, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com<mailto:gthomgt at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear Dominik et al.,

Given Wendy's defense of Penguin India, what other alternatives are available to those of us who are Penguin India authors?

George


On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 2:09 PM, George Thompson <gthomgt at gmail.com<mailto:gthomgt at gmail.com>> wrote:
Dear Dominik et al.,

Given Wendy's defense of Penguin India, what other alternatives are available to those of us who are Penguin India auth


On Tue, Feb 11, 2014 at 12:49 PM, Dominik Wujastyk <wujastyk at gmail.com<mailto:wujastyk at gmail.com>> wrote:
I am pleased to circulate the following statement at Wendy Doniger's request:

--------------------------------------

Dear friends, I have had literally hundreds of requests for interviews, in various
media, and I can’t do them all. So here is a statement that you may use. I hope
it’s enough; it’s the best I can do right now. I intend to write a longer article for
publication in a couple of weeks. Yours with gratitude for your courage and
compassion, wendy


I was thrilled and moved by the great number of messages of support that I
received, not merely from friends and colleagues but from people in India that I
have never met, who had read and loved The Hindus, and by news and media
people, all of whom expressed their outrage and sadness and their wish to help
me in any way they could. I was, of course, angry and disappointed to see this
happen, and I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in
the present, and steadily worsening, political climate. And as a publisher’s
daughter, I particularly wince at the knowledge that the existing books (unless
they are bought out quickly by people intrigued by all the brouhaha) will be
pulped. But I do not blame Penguin Books, India. Other publishers have just
quietly withdrawn other books without making the effort that Penguin made to
save this book. Penguin, India, took this book on knowing that it would stir
anger in the Hindutva ranks, and they defended it in the courts for four years,
both as a civil and as a criminal suit.

They were finally defeated by the true villain of this piece—the Indian law
that makes it a criminal rather than civil offense to publish a book that offends
any Hindu, a law that jeopardizes the physical safety of any publisher, no matter
how ludicrous the accusation brought against a book. An example at random,
from the lawsuit in question:

  ‘That YOU NOTICEE has hurt the religious feelings of millions of Hindus by
  declaring that Ramayana is a fiction. “Placing the Ramayan in its historical
  contexts demonstrates that it is a work of fiction, created by human authors, who
  lived at various times……….” (P.662) This breaches section 295A of the Indian
  Penal Code (IPC). ‘

Finally, I am glad that, in the age of the Internet, it is no longer possible to
suppress a book. The Hindus is available on Kindle; and if legal means of
publication fail, the Internet has other ways of keeping books in circulation.

People in India will always be able to read books of all sorts, including some that
may offend some Hindus.


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