Lack of humour has made us intolerant: Bombay High Court

Mumbai: Observing that absence of humour is responsible for much “intolerance,” the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court recently said only a few “oversensitive” persons, who want to extract political mileage, create divisions in society by making a mountain out of a mole hill.

The court further said that citizens should stop being hyper sensitive about religion and learn to accept the fact that even atheists exist in the society.   The strong observations were made by a division bench of Justices Tanaji Nalawade and Vibha Kankanwadi while quashing a FIR against the accused for putting up an “objectionable” post on his Facebook account. “The complainant could have taken the post in good humour, like all others, who believe in God, did. Thus, it can only be observed that in India, due to absence of humour, the tolerance threshold has gone down, shockingly,” the bench observed.

“Those few who want to get political advantage by raising such issues or who want to create rift in the society or those who are oversensitive and take such posts seriously, have created problems for our society,” the bench remarked. The bench was hearing a writ petition filed by Ashok Deshmukh and four of his Facebook friends, who were booked for insulting Hindu religion by comparing Lord Parshuram with the famous character ‘Parshya’ of Marathi blockbuster Sairat. His friends were booked for liking and commenting on his post.

In his defence, Deshmukh said he was an ‘atheist’ and did not believe in God or the Puran or even the Vedas. Taking note of the submissions, the bench then referred to the ‘enlightenment movement’ that led to remarkable intellectual development and change in beliefs in the country. “From 19th century itself a trend developed in India to reject the beliefs in traditional authority (superstition). Since then, a debate has started in the Indian society amongst the persons having different beliefs – theistic and atheistic – even about the existence of God,” the bench noted.

“If the person, who has questioned the rationale behind a superstition, is allowed to be prosecuted only for such questioning, resultantly, it will stop human development. Thus, courts need to be very cautious in the matters like the present one,” the judgment authored by Justice Nalawade reads. The court further said that no one can escape from the ‘rational system’ in the world, which has stood the test of times on centrally important social issues.

“Thus, there is a need for sophisticated thinking and realization that we cannot return to the medieval age. There may be interest of some in religiosity, but many others may not have such an interest. Many may have religiosity, but their orientation may be critical. Hence, in a democracy, all such persons are required to live together and there is no other alternative to it,” the bench held.

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