Plea in SC seeks ban on 'Sardarji' jokes

Plea in SC seeks ban on 'Sardarji' jokes

The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to examine a PIL demanding ban on jokes on Sikhs from websites, on the contention that they are a slur on the entire community and violate their Right to Equality.

Hurt by the depiction of Sikhs as “persons of low intellect, stupid and fool”, Sikh lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury has approached the Supreme Court seeking direction to authorities to impose penalty on offenders.

She sought direction to the Telecom and Information & Broadcasting Ministries to either ban over 5,000 websites or to remove such jokes as they tend to portray the Sardar community in bad light.

Sharing her own experience, Chowdhury said she had to face “humiliation” in all places, including courts and foreign countries.

She submitted that her children insisted on not using “Singh” or “Kaur” as their surnames to avoid further embarrassment.

A bench of Justices T S Thakur and Gopala Gowda initially observed that there are many Sikhs who do not mind these jokes and themselves indulge in cracking them. The court also pointed to Khushwant Singh, a Sikh who wrote such jokes.

“Many people we know take these jokes sportingly. It may not be an insult but only some casual comic statements for amusement. You want all such jokes to stop, but Sikhs may themselves oppose this,” observed the bench.

The lawyer, on her part, cited a statement by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in a recent election rally in Bihar. “Our prime minister says Biharis are intelligent, but when it comes to us, everyone tries to poke fun at us,” she said.

The bench, however, made a repartee: “Don’t worry! When he (Modi) goes to Punjab, he will say Sikhs are also intelligent people.”

As Chowdhury contended that the issue involved sensitivity of a particular community, the bench said her petition could be placed before a Sikh Supreme Court judge (Justice J S Khehar).

“We are fortunate to have a member from your community as judge. Should we send it to him, if you think only a judge from the same community can understand your case better?” the bench asked her.

The lawyer pleaded she would argue before the current bench and asked for a month's time to return with case laws and other materials to support her PIL.

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