Mumbai: A public interest litigation (PIL) has been filed before the Bombay High Court seeking guidelines to prevent the utterance and unrestricted circulation of derogatory remarks about deceased persons either in the press or through social platforms.
The PIL was filed by Maharashtra Gandhi Smarak Nidhi (MGSN) and a few associated social workers against the backdrop of Hindu activist Sambhaji Bhide making alleged derogatory remarks against Mahatma Gandhi.
A division bench of Chief Justice DK Upadhyaya and Justice Arif Doctor is likely to hear the PIL in the coming week.
PIL result of incidents of insult
The PIL raises grievances that recently there have been several instances where deliberate utterances were made against people who weren’t alive but held in high esteem. The same is also circulated in an unregulated manner across all social media platforms.
Such remarks disturb the social and ethnic fabric of our country, the PIL states. It further adds that deceased persons were not in a position to controvert the remarks, and their heirs ignored the “hurt and insult”.
It contends that these incidents caused irreparable damage to the “unity of India as a nation”. “Unfortunately, when the Central or State government, belonging to any political party, does take any action, it is either too late or too little,” it adds.
Furthermore, the existing laws, including Sections 499 and 500 (defamation) of the Indian Penal Code, were inadequate to deal with the issue, the plea claims.
The plea seeks the quashing of the provisions of sections 499 and 500 of IPC to the extent of the words in the explanation of that section “and is intended to be hurtful to the feelings of his family or other near relatives” as violative of articles 14 and 21 of the Constitution of India.
It also requests that the State government be directed to identify deceased persons who are held in high esteem by various groups and declare such a list so that no derogatory remarks are permitted to be published in the press or on any social media platforms.
The plea urges the court to lay down guidelines to prevent the utterance and unrestricted circulation of derogatory remarks about deceased persons either in the press or on social media platforms.