Somesh Arora: Different shades of a ban

The map appended to the autobiography of Fali S Nariman, Before Memory Fades… comes with an inscription that ` This map only shows the geographical area. It is neither accurate nor drawn to scale’ and exhibits the territories beyond line of control between India and Pakistan in a darker shade, the region of Jammu and Kashmir controlled by India in a different shade as also of Arunachal Pradesh in the same shade and remaining India in white.

This brings us to the ban imposed by Ministry of Home affairs on books published overseas exhibiting actual line of control of J & k, which Customs Authorities have diligently enforced for decades.

Now, in this case one can presume that Indian publishers of the work of authorship having the benefit of the availability of the view point of the eminent Jurist would have taken care of all the legalities involved, while publishing with suitable inscription.

But that also brings us to the larger issue of freedom of press and any purpose being served at all by the ban imposed by Ministry of Home Affairs because anyone who intends publishing maps as per their appreciation will always be able to do so by using suitable inscriptions that map is not as per the claims of Government of India or is not accurate etc. 

The Internet in any case provides liberty to anyone to publish and reach out to any person with any map of any country, that it may desire. There are bound to be different territorial claims and different maps in relation to various countries.

Government of India should therefore at least have a rethink about the purpose, if any being served by such ban and whether the same is required to be more strictly enforced even by banning inscriptions or it would like to scale it down with the provision in law or Constitution of India that territory of India for all legal and international territorial purposes would mean the territory as shown in the maps of Survey of India and that no other map is recognised by Government of India for such purposes.