NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear the plea of Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) along with other petitions seeking a ban on circulation of jokes about the Sikh community and said it may act if people are commercially exploiting the jokes.
A bench comprising Chief Justice T S Thakur and Justice U U Lalit said that the fresh plea of the SGPC would be tagged along with other cases on the issue and would be heard on April 5.
During the hearing, the bench asked advocate Satinder Singh Gulati, appearing for SGPC, to mention the areas where sub-judicial orders can be passed.
“Tell us which are the areas where we can do something. We will certainly look into it if entire community is feeling harassed,” the bench said, adding that it may pass some orders if circulation of such jokes is being commercially exploited.
“A stereotype has been created and Sikhs are being discriminated in society because of a particular language and religion,” SGPC stated.
The court was already hearing a separate plea by the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) against jokes on Sikhs and had observed that there was a need for sensitising the society from the formative stages.
During the last hearing on October 30, the bench had said, “This (Sikh) community is known for a great sense of humour and they also enjoy such jokes. You must have gone through the jokes of Khushwant Singh. This is only an amusement. Why do you want it to be stopped?”
The court had also asked for suggestions from the committee and said it could stop jokes when they are circulated for a commercial purpose and it would examine the framing of guidelines to stop circulation of racist or communal jokes in the cyber world.
The DSGMC has sought direction to the Telecom Ministry to filter websites which target the Sikh community, on the ground that it was violative of sections 153A and 153B of the IPC.
It had said the community was against making and circulating of jokes on Sikhs, Biharis and calling people from Northeastern states by a particular term.
Another public interest litigation filed by a woman lawyer, Harvinder Chowdhary, had claimed that hardly 300 people from the community or just a few of them enjoyed such jokes and that the sociological aspects had a bearing on the issue. The apex court on January 4 had said it would seriously consider examining plea to ban websites displaying jokes on Sikhs.
The PIL had said there were over 5,000 websites which displayed jokes on sardars projecting the members of the community in poor light.
“All the jokes relating to the Sikh community should be stopped. My children are humiliated and feel embarrassed and they don’t want to suffix Singh and Kaur after their names,” Chowdhury had claimed. She had also said such jokes violated the Sikhs’ fundamental right to a life of dignity.