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Supreme Court Serious About Sardarji Jokes

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said that it would give a “serious” consideration to the plea seeking a ban on websites carrying jokes on Sikhs and projecting the community in dim light.

“We may have to look into the issue seriously. We thought you alone have come. If your community too feels bad about it….” a bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice A.K.Sikri and Justice R. Banumathi told PIL petitioner, lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury.

On being asked if the there was a “collective response” to the issue by the Sikh community and if they stood by her, she told the court that even Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC) had moved the court on the issue.

As she addressed the court on the issue, the court asked her:

“Who will determine that a joke against a Sardar is to show him a stupid way.” When the court sought the views of Additional Solicitor General P.S.Patwalia on the issue, Chowdhury said his father (retired apex court judge) Justice Kuldip Singh had done a lot of work in the field which he (Patwalia) does not even know as he was very young. Addressing the court, Patwalia said that the petitioner was “over-excited” and sought to dispel her apprehension on the issue being given serious consideration.

“We have taken it very seriously. My friend (Chowdhury) should not have any apprehensions,” he said, assuing her that the issue being agitated by her would be given serious consideration. Seeking the issues of Vishaka like guidelines which the apex court had issued in 1997 to deal with the cases of sexual harassment of women at work place, Chowdhury told the court that Sikh children were being subjected to bullying and ridicule and their human rights should be protected.

Referring to the international covenants, she said that there should be human right courts to uphold the human rights of the Sikh community, and claimed that more than 15,000 suicides have been committed across the globe on account of such mocking.

Trying to impress upon the court the seriousness of the issue being raised by her, she told the court that she had put in 30 years of research during which she undertook studies in a 100 societies, the court expressed its wonder. She has urged the court to direct the government to clamp down on the more than 5,000 websites like www.jokesduniya.com/category/sardar-jokes.htm, as they were “criticising one community and it should stop.”

Naming a number of websites carrying Sikh-centric jokes, Chowdhury has sought directions to the telecom department to install filters to weed out jokes relating to the community and that such websites created public nuisance under Section 268 of Indian Penal Code and it was a crime under the cyber laws. Adjourning the matter for further hearing, the court said that it would hear the pleas of Harvinder Chowdhury and DSGMC together.

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