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As was first reported by 1, Law Street yesterday, a bench of the Supreme Court of India today heard a PIL petition which sought ban on the ‘Sardar/Sikh’ jokes’. Petition has inter alia made the following prayer:
issue a writ of mandamus to the respondents to ban websites spreading jokes on sardars/Sikhs projecting them as persons of low intellect, stupid and foolish, etc.
Listed at item 48, when the matter was called, petitioner Harvinder Chowdhury, a practising advocate, appeared in person and informed the bench that she required some further time to file certain volumes of documents in the matter.
Justice Thakur who was presiding the bench which also comprised of Justice V Gopala Gowda, appeared to be little amused and said:
Sikh community is known for their sense of humour and they themselves might object to this petition.
Justice Thakur also said that Khushwant Singh had himself written a book on Sardar jokes. The petitioner however told Court that she was aware that the petition was very strange but she was prepared to answer that question. She said that the jokes made on Sikhs have led to them being ridiculed across the globe. She cited certain examples from her personal knowledge where a patient embarrassed a Sikh Doctor after his treatment. She also cited her personal experience where a lawyer in the bar rooms had cracked a joke saying “aapke 12 baj gaye.”
Petitioner told Court that she was once embarrassed by an airport personnel on her being late for the flight with remarks like “kar di naa sardaron waali baat”. She further said that the Sikh children do not like to have ‘singh’ suffixed to their names as it shows their identity.
Referring to Justice JS Kehar, Justice Thakur remarked that the Supreme Court was fortunate to have a Sikh judge with itself and said that this petition can be sent to him. However the petitioner disagreed with this suggestion and asked the bench not to do so.
Court asks Sr. Counsel Singhvi for his opinion
During the course of hearing, Justice Thakur turned to Senior Counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi who sitting in the front row was waiting for his matter, asking him of his opinion. Mr. Singhvi then rose and said:
Poland would be poor without Polish jokes and India would be poor without Sikh jokes.
Petitioner seeks one hour to argue her case
Petitioner asserted that the matter was of grave importance and hence she requires a substantial times to argue the case. She sought permission to file additional documents and requested that she then be given at least an hour’s time to argue the case.
As a mark of respect, Court dictates petitioner’s name in the order
Petitioner told Court that once she had argued a case before a certain Supreme Court judge who after the matter called out her name in the open court and praised her for her presentation of the case. On this Justice Thakur said “today also we will say your name” and then turned to the court master and dictated the order starting with the name of the appearing petitioner-in-person.
The matter has been adjourned for six weeks for the petitioner to file additional documents and will be taken up next on January 4, 2016.