18 Mar 2016 — Each one of you deserves to be congratulated! New Delhi, March 17: The Supreme Court today indicated that it might ban “Santa Banta” jokes from being circulated for “commercial” motives on the Internet and other media “if the entire (Sikh) community is being aggrieved by it”. Such a ban will apply […]
18 Mar 2016 — Each one of you deserves to be congratulated!
New Delhi, March 17: The Supreme Court today indicated that it might ban “Santa Banta” jokes from being circulated for “commercial” motives on the Internet and other media “if the entire (Sikh) community is being aggrieved by it”.
Such a ban will apply to all publications and broadcasters but not to jokes told during private conversations.
“Tell us the directions that can be given. If it is done with a commercial angle, we will certainly stop it,” a bench headed by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur told Satwinder Singh Gulati, counsel for petitioner Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee.
The SGPC is the highest temporal body of Sikhs and manages the affairs of gurdwaras worldwide. It had filed a writ petition on the subject after a woman Sikh advocate moved the apex court seeking a ban on the circulation of Sikh jokes.
In its petition, the SGPC said it had received complaints from Sikhs and Sikh organisations against the circulation of jokes at the expense of the community on the Internet.
It urged the court to determine whether the circulation of these jokes violated Sikhs’ fundamental right to live with dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution, their right of equality under Article 14, and their right to profess and propagate their religion, as enshrined in Article 25.
It asked the court to decide whether “Internet websites circulating and selling Sikh jokes have unrestricted rights under Article 19 of the Constitution to do business, where the business being done by them hurts the sentiments, self-respect of a minority community”.
“It is further submitted that if this circulation of Sardar jokes be allowed to continue, depicting Sikhs as naïve, inept, etc. etc. then, since it creates a stereotype image of Sikhs, it is also leading to undermine the contributions made by Sikhs for the independence of India, such as sacrifices by Sikh Gurus, sacrifice of Sikh soldiers to protect the frontiers of this country and Punjab as an agriculture storehouse feeding the entire nation, apart from the above, the Sikhs have made contributions in all spheres of life, be it science, engineering, administration, bureaucracy, literature, medicines etc. etc,” the petition said.
The SGPC says it had approached several government authorities, including ministers, against the circulation of such jokes but no action had followed.
Earlier, advocate Harvinder Chowdhury had urged the apex court to ban the 5,000-odd websites circulating jokes projecting Sikhs as “unintelligent”, “stupid”, “idiot”, “foolish”, “naïve”, “inept” and as lacking proficiency in English.
Harvinder, a Sikh married to a Hindu, told the court through counsel Ashish Pandey that such jokes violated the community’s fundamental right to life and to live with dignity, guaranteed under Article 21.
She urged a ban on these websites and prosecution of their owners under penal code sections 153A (promoting enmity between communities, punishable by up to a year in jail), 153B (imputations prejudicial to national integration, carrying up to a five-year term) and 268 (public nuisance, entailing six months’ jail).
source : The Telegraph