Wednesday, February 12, 2014
Penguin Books India, a division of Penguin Books, is pulling Wendy Doniger's book The Hindus: An Alternative History after an Indian court ruled that it must stop circulation of the publication in the country within six months. According to an Indian statute, publications that insult or defame a religious group or a religion can be deemed criminal libel. While the Wall Street Journal article I link to above does not give the section of the Indian Penal Code the court is interpreting, I believe it may be section 295A.
More here from the BBC.
Withdrawing (and then pulping) books from circulation is not unknown in publishing circles as a solution to such legal challenges. In 2006, Cambridge University Press agreed to withdraw and pulp all remaining unsold copies of the title Alms for Jihad after plaintiff Khalid Bin Mahfouz won a defamation action in a London court. The same plaintiff won such settlements from Pluto Press and Profile Books. At he time, the UK libel law regime was highly favorable to defamation plaintiffs. The UK has since changed its libel laws; a new statute went into effect this year which provides a number of additional protections to defamation defendants.