NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) to come up with suggestions for sensitising the society to stop targeting the Sikh community with racist jokes.
A Bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur, which said it would examine the framing of guidelines to stop the circulation of racist or communal jokes, asked the petitioner and the DSGMC to come up with solutions in six weeks’ time. Senior advocates from the community, A P S Ahluwalia and R S Suri, said there was a need to sensitise students not to circulate jokes that portray any community or sociological group in bad light. They emphasised that said the community was against making and circulating jokes on Sikhs, Biharis and using derogatory epithets for persons from the Northeast.
Suri said, “I have seen people from the community doing very well in different spheres. We have had many leaders who were Sikhs and even a Sikh President and Prime Minister.”
The CJI then intervened to say, “You had a Sikh Army Chief also. Soon you will be having a Sikh as the Chief Justice of India (referring to Justice J S Khehar).” The CJI said, “We can stop jokes when they are circulated for a commercial purpose. But suppose, if your (pointing out to the arguing lawyer) colleague in the canteen makes a joke, you also laugh. Can we stop him? Will you file contempt (complaint) against your colleague?” On this, Suri said “We don’t want unenforceable order.”
The Bench also referred to jokes and the book on it by noted author Khushwant Singh saying people considered them as quality stuff. However, woman lawyer Harvinder Chowdhary, who has filed a PIL in this regard, said she has done research and claimed that hardly 300 people from the community or fewer enjoyed such jokes. Sociological aspects have a bearing on the issue, she added. The PIL had said there were over 5,000 websites which displayed jokes on Sardars projecting the members of the community in poor light. Chowdhury has sought direction to Telecom Ministry to filter websites which targeted the Sikh community, on the ground that it was violative of sections 153A and 153B of the IPC. “All the jokes relating to Sikh community should be stopped. My children feel embarrassed and they don’t want to suffix Singh and Kaur after their names,” Chowdhury said.