The Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a petition seeking a ban on the publication and circulation of Malayalam novel Meesha written by S Hareesh, reported Bar and Bench.

“Subjective perceptions about a book should not be allowed to enter legal arena when it comes to censorship,” said a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud. They added that the “writer’s imagination must enjoy freedom”, according to ANI.

The petitioner had sought a ban on the publication or circulation by internet or propagation of the novel on the grounds that it depicted temple-going Hindu women in a derogatory light. The state and Central governments had opposed the plea.

N Radhakrishnan’s petition alleged that the novel was offensive to Hindu priests and women and that a specific objectionable dialogue about Brahmins amounted to a casteist or racial slur. On August 3, the top court reserved its order and asked Malayalam weekly Mathrubhumi to submit a translated copy of the chapter within five days.

The novel, which is set in Kerala nearly 50 years ago, was being published serially in Mathrubhumi. After three chapters were published, Hareesh decided to withdraw the novel on July 21 following threats from Hindutva organisations. The writer and his family members have allegedly been abused on social media. On August 1, DC Books released the novel in a book form.

After the novel was withdrawn, Hareesh received support from Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, former chief minister and Communist Party of India (Marxist) leader VS Achuthanandan, writers M Mukundan, K Satchidanandan, Anita Nair, Unni R and KR Meera.

Hareesh, who works at the state revenue department, won the Kerala Sahitya Akademi award in 2016 for his collection of stories titled Aadam. His first collection of stories was titled Rasavidyayude Charithram.