New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday expressed its inability to issue directions to regulate jokes about the Sikh community, observing courts cannot “lay down moral guidelines” for citizens.
The earlier Bench headed by former Chief Justice T.S. Thakur had entertained several PILs which sought court intervention to curb or ban Sardar jokes in circulation in the social media.
During the resumed hearing, a Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and Ms. R. Banumathi, made it clear that the SC cannot pass any kind of guidelines banning or curbing jokes about the Sikhs.
However, the court assured Sikh bodies, including the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabandhak Committee and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, that it will explore the possibility of an order to block derogatory jokes portraying the community to be of ‘low intellect, stupid and foolish’.
Justice Misra asked the counsel,
“is there any kind of guidelines for any community or any religion anywhere in the world. While some persons will laugh on a joke, some others may remain quiet. It all depends on individual’s perception.”
He added that nowhere in the world can a 100 per cent ban be executed.
‘If someone is serious about banning content on the internet and social media, then a massive content monitoring and surveillance programme needs to be launched.
‘But the contents will be uploaded again and again on new platforms as soon as they are deleted. India is facing an acute problem of cyber terrorism and internet crime, but security agencies cannot even carry out keyword-based monitoring,’ he explained.
Other experts claim that at a time when WhatsApp content monitoring is a challenge, it would be impractical to call for complete ban on controversial or community-specific jokes on the internet.
SGPC had demanded that such jokes amounting to ‘racial slur’ and ‘racial profiling’ be included within the definition of ‘ragging’ in educational institutions.