SC questions maintainability of plea on banning Sikh jokes

SC questions maintainability of plea on banning Sikh jokes

 The Supreme Court on Tuesday questioned the maintainability of a petition for banning circulation of jokes on the Sikh community, saying courts cannot lay down moral guidelines for citizens.

“We don't think we can go into it. We are slightly uncomfortable about it. We can’t lay down moral guidelines for the citizens. Fundamental duty is a part of the Constitution. There has to be mutual respect (among people),” a bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said. Though the court agreed that the apex court has expanded the horizon of Article 32 (writ jurisdiction) and Article 21 (right to life and liberty) of the Constitution was still evolving, the bench went on to wonder if such a petition can be entertained.

The stand taken by the new bench headed by Justice Misra is in contrast with the previous bench presided over by then Chief Justice of India Justice T S Thakur, which had asked Delhi Shiromani Gurdwara Parbhandhak Committee and others, including petitioner Harvinder Chowdhury, a Sikh lawyer, to come out with suggestions on their plea for ban on circulation of jokes on Sikhs for commercial purposes.

As Harvinder contended that the members of the Sikh community, were lampooned and ridiculed on their identity in schools, colleges and work places etc., and guidelines should be made as was done in the Vishakha case (sexual harassment at workplaces), the bench said the questions of individual dignity can be handled separately if raised by aggrieved persons.

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