Censorship in India

Constitution of India guarantees the freedom of expression. However, freedom of expression is not absolute and can curtailed by due legislation by the parliament. There are  certain restrictions on content, with a view towards maintaining communal and religious harmony, given the history of communal tension in the nation.

Legal aspects

  • Official Secrets Act 1923 is used for the protection of official information, mainly related to national security.
  • Press Censorship can be placed in emergency. In 1975 Indira Gandhi government imposed censorship of press in The Emergency. It was removed at the end of the Emergency rule.
  • On 26th June 1975, a the day after the emergency was imposed, the Bombay edition of The Times of India in its obituary column carried an entry that read "D.E.M O’Cracy beloved husband of T.Ruth, father of L.I.Bertie, brother of Faith, Hope and Justica expired on 26 June".
  • The Central Board of Film Certification, the regulatory film body of India, regularly orders directors to remove anything it deems offensive, including sex, nudity, violence or subjects considered politically subversive

What has come under Censorship in India?

  • In 2002, the film War and Peace, depicting scenes of nuclear testing and the September 11, 2001 attacks. However court alloowed the uncut film afterwards.
  • In 2003 Film ‘Gulabi Aaina (The Pink Mirror)’, a film on Indian transsexuals produced and directed by Sridhar Rangayan.
  • In 2006, seven states (Nagaland, Punjab, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh) have banned the release or exhibition of the Hollywood movie The Da Vinci Code. 5.
  • In 1999 Maharashtra government banned the Marathi play ‘Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy" or ‘I am Nathuram Godse Speaking"
  • 1989, The import of Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses was banned in India for its purported attacks on Islam. India was the second country in the world (after Singapore) to ban the book.
  • A book on Shivaji by Queens University professor Jayant Lele was also banned as this book raised a question about Shivaji’s father. Laine’s translation of the Sivabharata, entitled The Epic of Shivaji, was also banned.

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