The Union health ministry’s firm “no” to a proposal from the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court to explore the possibility of making clinical tests mandatory for would-be brides and grooms with a view to ruling out impotency and frigidity should have left many heaving a sigh of relief. One of the reasons cited by the ministry against such a test, saying it would tantamount to invasion of privacy, should alone be able to put the lid on needless debate kindled by the court, which had even gone to the extent of eliciting the opinion of various stakeholders by conducting what was more like a public hearing. Though most of those who expressed their views were against compulsory testing, the court was determined to pursue its course, thus begging the question: Should courts be seen as championing causes and making recommendations on issues involving complex socio-medical prognosis rather than deciding on the legal dispute before it?
Also, should courts be preaching and laying down commandments to creative artistes in general? For, the same court that wanted pre-marital testing, more recently, waxed eloquence on what film-makers should do and should not when it was called upon to decide on a plea seeking a ban on two Tamil films, scheduled for release during Deepavali. Among the many things that the court wanted films not to feature are scenes or dialogues that might offend people with traditional beliefs. Though moralists may approve of some of the suggestions, like refraining from portraying violence and sex, adolescent romance and so on, the question remains if is it the job of a court to preach. That too when the plea against the release of the two films did not mention any of those objectionable things that the court found in modern-day films.
So, will the Union health ministry ruling out the possibility of forcing people to go for medical tests enable the particular court to see reason? Will the higher judiciary be reined in from turning courtrooms into pulpits?