October 4, 2022

The case when renowned writer Mulk Raj Anand had to give analysis of a novel as a witness

Mulk Raj Anand’s name is read in the line of great English writers of India. His notable works are considered ‘untouchable’, ‘coolie’, and ‘two leaves and a bud.’

Mulk raj Anand gave testimony as a witness from the side of accused in a case. In this case, a bookstall owner was accused of selling obscene book. This obscene book was the classic erotic novel of D.H. Lawrence ‘Lady chatterly’s lover’. The partners of the firm which owned that book stall were charged for the possession of obscene book under section 292 of IPC and again the seller ‘Gokuldas sahmji’ of the book stall named ‘Happy book stall’ on the charge of selling obscene book.

Section 292 of the IPC make it an offence if someone possesses, sell obscene books. It says that whoever sells, lets to hire, distributes, publicly exhibits or in any manner puts into circulation, or for purposes of sale, hire, distribution, public exhibition or circulation, makes, produces or has in his possession any obscene book, pamphlet, paper, drawing, painting, representation or figure or any other obscene object whatsoever

In this case, first, count of charge was on book firm and second count on a bookseller for selling a copy of the book ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ on 12 Dec 1959 at Bombay to a bogus customer Ali Raza Sayeed Hasan.

To prove the requirements of the section the prosecution examined two witnesses. One was the test purchaser ‘Ali Raza Sayeed Hasan’ and the other an Inspector of the Vigilance Department. These witnesses proved possession and sale of the book. The Inspector in his testimony also offered his reasons for considering the book to be obscene.

On behalf of the accused Mr. Mulkraj Anand, a writer and art critic gave evidence and in a detailed analysis of the novel, he sought to establish that in spite of its apparent indelicate theme and the candidness of its delineation and diction, the novel was a work of considerable literary merit and a classic and not obscene.

mulk raj anand

However, in this case, trial court convicted all the partners of the firm on the first count and fined each of them Rs. 20 with one week’s simple imprisonment in default. Gokuldas Shamji was additionally convicted on the second count and was sentenced to a further fine of Rs. 20 or like imprisonment in default.

When accused appealed in high court and Supreme court, both courts also maintained the punishment of the accused.