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Jokes on Sikh community: Courts can’t lay down moral guidelines, says SC – Times of India

Last year Sikh PA highlighted the issue of jokes which reinforces stereotypes and a bigoted attitude towards Sikhs being common place within Indian media. Our recommended speaker Bal Kaur of Khalsa Aid/Safer Sikhs spoke on this on BBC Berkshire. 

Here we share an article from Times of India on a recent court ruling on the issue.

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled out any blanket ban on ‘Sardar jokes’ saying that judiciary could not lay down moral guidelines for citizens and court should also not pass order on how people should conduct themselves.

A bench of Justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi said that it was part of Constitution‘s fundamental duties that people should respect each other and no particular community should be made the butt of jokes+ , but expressed its reservation in passing ban order on jokes targeting a community.

“Courts cannot lay down moral guidelines for citizens. Although Fundamental Duties are part of the constitutions and people must have respect but how can court pass order on such issues,” the bench said while referring to Article 51A which says that it shall be the duty of every citizen of India to promote harmony and the spirit of common brotherhood amongst all the people transcending religious, linguistic and regional or sectional diversities.

The apex court has been examining the case since October 30, 2015 when it agreed to hear a PIL seeking ban on Sardar jokes for being racist+ , ridiculing Sikhs and projecting them as foolish and naive. The petitioner Harvinder Chowdhury, a practising advocate, contended that cracking jokes on a particular community amounts to racial abuse and hurting religious sentiments.

“There are more than 5,000 websites which spread jokes on Sardars projecting Sikhs as unintelligent, stupid, idiot, foolish, naive and not well versed in English… It amounts to violation of the fundamental right to life and to live with dignity, as guaranteed under the Constitution,” she submitted.
She alleged that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have a vigorous law to protect them from any insult but the Sikh community did not have and pleaded the court to intervene.
The bench, however, said that it was for Parliament to frame laws and expressed reservation in passing order to ban Sardar jokes. “Some people laugh when they hear jokes, some are reserved. How can we issue guidelines as to how people should conduct themselves?” the court said.
After a brief hearing, the bench adjourned the hearing and posted the case for March 27 to pass a formal order.
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