The Delhi High Court has ordered a ban on distribution of a book by the journalist who has been arrested for allegedly publishing a UGAD book, an act that the prosecution says amounts to sedition and is punishable under Section 295A of the Indian Penal Code.
The court had on August 20, 2017, passed a temporary order banning the distribution of the book, which was published by a publisher, The Book, by writer Ashok Singh Rathore, in the first week of August.
In his appeal, the author argued that he was entitled to free expression as he is a journalist and a writer of fiction and the publication of his book was in the public interest.
In the order, the court said that publication of the UGADE book in the early hours of August 4 in the wake of the protests against the Delhi High court verdict, which he had conducted, was in violation of Article 20(1) of the Constitution.
“The publication of such book in violation (of Article 20) of Constitution of India was also in violation with Article 21(1), as well as Article 22(2), Article 23(1)(b) and Article 24(1),” the order said.
Rathore had in his petition alleged that the book had violated Article 20, Article 21 and Article 22 of the constitution and also Article 24 of the Delhi Special Powers Procedure Rules.
He also alleged that a section of the Information Technology Act, 2016, which deals with illegal distribution of information is not enforceable in this context.
The order had stated that it was the responsibility of the publisher to ensure that the distribution was in accordance with the provisions of the law.
The author, however, contended that the order was a “fantasy”, as he did not hold a valid licence to print the book.
He said that the publisher had in the past published books which he did print and the book was not illegal in any manner.
Rachak, however said that his publishers license expired on July 31, 2017 and the publisher, in its attempt to get a renewal, sought a copy of the licence for a period of six months.
“This is not a legal licence and the government has refused to renew it,” he said.
The Delhi High Courts had on December 15, 2017 issued a notice to the publisher saying that publication was in contravention of section 15 of the Act.
The case has now been referred to the Delhi high court.