‘Sardars’ don’t want to be butt of jokes!

New Delhi : A Sikh woman lawyer on Monday successfully persuaded the Supreme Court to hear her PIL (public interest litigation) for ban on jokes on the Sikhs. “If the (Sikh) community feels so bad, we will take a serious view on this,” said Chief Justice T S Thakur, appreciating lawyer Harvinder Chowdhury for persisting with the case.

Sitting on another bench on October 20, he had already admitted her PIL as a criminal writ petition after she refused to withdraw it when he told her: “This community is known for their great sense of humour and enjoy such jokes and hence they themselves might object to this petition.” However, others have joined her and as such the Bench headed by Justice Thakur decided to club together all petitions and indicated to hear the matter at length. The court, however, did not issue notice to anybody.

The other two judges on the Bench were Justices A K Sikri and Mrs R Banupathi. Though Chowdhury”s PIL was specifically to ban the ”Sardar” jokes on the Internet, other petitions want the Court to put a blanket ban on the jokes at all levels. She told the court that such jokes are an attack on the dignity of the community and violate a Sikh’s right to equality.

She had made the Telecom Ministry and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry as respondents and sought notices to them but without success. Her petition is to either ban the websites or direct them to remove such jokes since “they tend to portray the Sardar community as people of low intellect.”

It were her emotionally spurred arguments at the last hearing that the Court admitted the PIL for hearing when Chowdhury argued how her children are humiliated and feel embarrassed so much so that they don”t want to suffix Singh after their names.

In her PIL, she has said that there is always much hue and cry whenever certain communities and castes are targeted, but when Sardars are made the butt of jokes, there is not a single word of protest. It is not for the first time that a Sikh has objected to the jokes on the community.

Several times, the Sikh groups have gone to police, especially in Mumbai, against such jokes. Back in March 2007, the issue was successfully raised by Sikh businessman Mohinder Nanaksingh Kakar against Mumbai-based publisher Ranjit Parande who was arrested for publishing a book on Santa and Banta that allegedly carried “derogatory” jokes on the Sikh community.

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