07/02/2017 2:36 PM IST | Updated 07/02/2017 2:57 PM IST

Supreme Court Refuses To Issue Guidelines Banning Sardar Jokes

The apex court would pass a detailed formal order on 27 March.

Anindito Mukherjee / Reuters

NEW DELHI -- The Supreme Court on Tuesday refused to issue detail guidelines banning Sardar/Sikh jokes and said it would pass a detailed formal order on 27 March.

During the hearing, the apex court observed that it is has no right to frame guidelines on the issue and asked the aggrieved to opt for alternate mechanism like 66 A of the Information Technology Act 2000 or to seek justice under the relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

"If anything is surfacing on social media, anyone can take a recourse under 67A of the IT Act or under the IPC. How can we, under Article 32, lay guidelines and what kind of guidelines should be laid. We are not getting into concept of joke and all. Question is what kind of guidelines this court can lay down?" observed Justice Dipak Misra.

In response, senior advocate for petitioner, Harvinder Choudhary, submitted to the apex court that constant stereotyping holds the growth of a particular community.

"These are the questions which came to my conscience when this brief came to me. Constant stereotype of a community hold growth of that community. The guidelines will help all. If in a school, we are in majority then it will save other minority. Situation is bad now. There is need of protection," the advocate said.

Choudhary had contended that such jokes portray the Sikh community in negative light and wants such websites, which disseminate such 'insensitive' jokes, to be prosecuted under laws that carry a prison term of six months to five years. The petitioner argued that such jokes on many social network websites portray Sikhs as 'unintelligent', 'foolish' and 'naive', making them an easy target of ridicule and racial abuse.

The Apex Court had asked an expert panel headed by former apex court judge H.S. Bedi to submit draft guidelines so that appropriate orders can be passed to prevent circulation of sardar jokes on websites.

In July 2016, a bench of former Chief Justice T.S. Thakur and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud gave six weeks time for the panel to hold discussions and submit the guidelines. The bench passed the order after hearing the counsel for various parties including the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC) which said that the community is being bullied by such jokes.

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