After the decision of Penguin publishing to withdraw all Indian editions of Wendy Doniger's The Hindus: An Alternative History, advocate Lawrence Liang, who is part of the Bangalore-based Alternative Law Forum, has issued a legal notice to the publishing house claiming that the publisher has violated freedom of speech laws and readers’ rights.
A report which appeared in Legally India states that:
"The 30-paragraph legal notice was sent on behalf of Liang’s clients, Shuddhabrata Sengupta and Aarthi Sethi, to Penguin earlier today, and argues that because Penguin has agreed to withdraw the book from India and destroy all copies, after a legal dispute with a religious group, it has “effectively acknowledged that it is not longer interested in exercising” its ownership in the work and should surrender its copyright to the Indian public."
The legal notice goes on to say that Penguin withdrawing the book:
despite the fact that there is no court order that mandates such withdrawal is shocking and in absolute contravention of your responsibilities as a publisher- to the author, the book and to the reading community upon whose goodwill your fortune and reputation depends. In effect you have withdrawn the book on the basis of a legal threat thereby granting unauthorized groups and individuals the right to censor books. These groups and individuals believe that the threat of force is the best way to counter the written word and when publishers succumb to such pressures they perhaps need to rethink why they are in the book business at all. While they may both be birds, there is a world of difference between a Penguin and a chicken and the last time my clients checked, the penguin had not changed his feathers in the natural world.”
The full legal notice can be read here.
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Updated Date: Feb 14, 2014 19:55:50 IST