Supreme Court: How can order to ban Sardar jokes be enforced?

Image Credit: Santa Banta

The Supreme Court Tuesday said it does not want any group to be an object of constant ridicule, but wondered how its order to impose a ban on jokes on Sikhs and Sardars can be implemented.

A bench led by Chief Justice T S Thakur said it acknowledged the contribution of the Sikh community in the progress of the country but court orders had to be within the “judicial dimension” so that they are capable of being implemented.

“We cannot say something which is impossible for implementation,” observed the bench as it heard a PIL, which has sought a ban on jokes on Sikhs and Sardars, claiming such jokes are a violation of their right to equality with fellow citizens and an attack on the dignity of the community.

The PIL filed by woman lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury had received the support of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Managing Committee (DSGMC), which said “distasteful jokes have started hurting the community.”

Appearing for the DSGMC, senior advocates RS Suri and APS Ahluwalia pointed out that circulation of such jokes on social media had led to a situation where Sikhs felt hurt and offended by relentless lampooning of the community. “It has been 68 years since the country got the independence. Sikhs have done very well themselves and they have occupied all important positions, including the Prime Minister’s chair,” said Suri.

While adding that a Sikh had been Army chief, the bench said that another member from the community will soon be the Chief Justice of India. Justice J S Khehar will become the first Sikh CJI in 2017 after Justice Thakur retires. The bench, however, claimed: “Even if we were to say that it is unfair to comment or make such jokes since they (Sikhs and Sardars) have done so much for the country and that they are second to none, the real point is how do we enforce our orders? Suppose we say don’t crack such jokes and tomorrow you are sitting with your colleagues when one of them makes such a joke and you also laugh. Will we be issuing contempt in that case?” “We want people to be sensitised,” responded Suri, adding that the DSGMC wanted directions issued to educate children at school-level. The bench retorted: “Some of your community people, like Khushwant Singh has written book on such jokes. It takes great spirit to laugh on oneself. We can look into the issue but this has to be within the judicial dimension and capable of being implemented.”

The bench adjourned the matter while giving the petitioner and the DSGMC six weeks to come up with certain suggestions on the kind of orders that judiciary can issue.

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