New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday counselled the various parties before it seeking the guidelines for curbing racial comments and jokes on Sikhs and a clampdown on websites carrying Sikh-centric jokes not to fight among themselves and politicise the issue.
A bench of Chief Justice T.S.Thakur and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), and private petitioner Harvinder Chowdhury not to fight among themselves as the issue being agitated by them was their common cause.
"You are fighting among yourself. It is a common cause. What they (Sikh religious bodies) have to say they will say, what you (Harvinder Chowdhury) have to say you will say, don't politicise the issue. Now it is assuming political overtones," Chief Justice Thakur told the parties vying with each other in stating their positions.
Chowdhury, a practising advocate of Supreme Court, claimed that she represented 1.5 crore Sikhs.
"Not today. It has to wait," the court said as it adjourned the hearing for two months asking both the SGPC and DSGMC to ask the committees set-up by them to make suggestions that the top court could direct to be enforced.
The DSGMC has set-up a committee comprising former apex court judges Justice H.S.Bedi, Justice M.Y.Eqbal, Rajya Sabha member Pawan Kumar Verma, North Eastern Council member M.P. Bezbaruah, former union law secretary Rajhbir Singh to suggest guidelines as to how to go about curbing racial comments and jokes on Sikhs.
Similarly, the SGPC Atoo has set up a committee headed by its president Jathedar Avtar Singh, former Punjab and Haryana High Court judge K.S.Grewal, former Punjab chief secretary Ramesh Inder Singh, Fathegarh Sahib Guru Granth Sahib University vice-chancellor Gurmohan Singh, well-known scholar Prabhjot Kaur, high court advocates Gurminder Singh and Pavit Singh Mattewal, apex court lawyer Satinder Singh Gulati, SPCP secretary Avtar Singh and additional secretary Simarjit Singh.
The SGPC in its petition has sought direction to communications ministry to install filters to screen websites which targets Sikh community with indecent, offensive and oppressive jokes being violative of the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code.
Besides this, it has sought direction to the website owners to pay adequate compensation to the National Legal Service Authority for having caused damages to the reputation and dignity of Sikh community.
Pointing to the difficulties being faced by the community, SGPC in its petition has contended that even before a Sikh child faces an actual competition, he/she has to get over the stereotype of his/her image.
The SGPC has urged the court to decide "whether such acts of circulation of funny jokes on Sikhs, amounts to violation of their fundamental right to live with dignity under article 21 of the constitution; their right of equality under article 14 of the constitution; and their right to profess and propagate their religion, as enshrined under article 25 of the constitution".
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