On I-Day eve, apex court gives welcome ‘lesson’ on liberty

Supreme court’s decision to dismiss petition against Aamir Khan’s ‘PK’ is significant, especially in these ‘ban ’em all’ frenzied times

shantanu

Shantanu Datta | August 14, 2014 | New Delhi


Independence Day is meant not to flex muscles but to celebrate our freedom, and liberty.
Independence Day is meant not to flex muscles but to celebrate our freedom, and liberty.

In an age when books, or other works of art, are banned/pulped/not published for fear of either a social castigation or fatwa or violence or some or the other form of jihad and/or either or all, it takes the judiciary, despite all its flaws, to restore some sanity in our society. To let us know that all is not lost in the din of an age when school students are taught that in Mahabharat, “Sanjaya sitting inside a palace in Hastinapur and using his divya shakti” to “give live telecast of the battle of Mahabharata… to the blind Dhritarashtra” was the first television anchor of human history, all is not lost.

Today’s supreme court judgment takes more significance coming, as it does, a day before Independence Day, which is meant not to flex muscles – as BJP’s Gorakhpur MP Swami Adityanath did in parliament at around the same time as the apex court bench was reading out its judgment – but to celebrate our freedom. The freedom to speak, speak out, draw, sketch, write, criticise, lampoon, ridicule and even  get enraged at all this – all, of course, within the limits of the other person’s level of tolerance and constitutional limits.

Dismissing a public interest litigation seeking ban on the release of Aamir Khan-starrer PK for allegedly promoting nudity and vulgarity, the apex court on Thursday (August 14) told the petitioner, "If you don't like then don't watch the film. But don't bring religious facets in it.” These, the bench said, are “matters of art and entertainment, and let them remain so".

Alleging that the film, directed by Rajkumar Hirani (of the Munnabhai series fame) and starring Aamir Khan as the lead protagonist, promotes nudity, the petition filed by an organisation called ‘All India Human Rights and Social Justice Front’ had on Wednesday sought the apex court’s immediate intervention to ensure the film is not released. In reply, the court said, “Any restrictions on release of (the) film would affect constitutional right of the filmmakers.”

In an observation that holds true in all times, but especially so in this day and age of limited tolerance, the supreme court bench also told the petitioner: "Don't be sensitive to such things. What will you hide in the age of Internet? Today's youth is very smart."

Or, are they? Especially when they are prescribed books by the likes of Dinanath Batra in school curriculum, which say if you are drawing a map of India make sure to include Pakistan, Afghanistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tibet, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Myanmar. Why? Because these are part of undivided India, or “Akhand Bharat” (we had raised our eyebrows to it earlier; read here).

And when students’ organisations – Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), in this case – force a college – St Xavier’s, Mumbai, in this case – to withdraw invitation to Dalit activist and singer Sheetal Sathe to participate in a panel discussion at its annual festival, Malhar, for allegedly being “anti-national” (read here). These are but only two recent instances.

Amid all, however, hope remains just as steadfast as the Tricolour, no doubt. The supreme court’s dismissal of the petition against PK comes a day after the Madras high court had dismissed another petition, which sought curbs on ‘Velaiyilla Pattathari’, a Tamil film starring Dhanush (of the Kolaveri song fame) for allegedly promoting smoking. Emphasising that it was not inclined to entertain the petition, the HC bench said everyone cannot become a “super censor board” by taking the public interest litigation route.

The two court verdicts may have come in cases relating to films that most Indians would not even watch, and in that sense are not the be-all and end-all of liberty in the country, but what those judgments mean is of much import. They mean criticise by all fair means but stop right in your tracks if that verbal censure takes a physical shape and every citizen starts pronouncing censure as censor and acting as one.
 

Comments

 

Other News

80 percent abortion in India through medicines: Lancet

 Three in four abortions in India are through drugs from chemists and informal vendors rather than from health facilities, said a report in The Lancet. An estimated 15.6 million abortions were performed in the country in 2015, reports The Lancet in its latest released paper on ‘Inciden

A turbulent journey so far for seaplanes in India

Prime minister Narendra Modi’s seaplane ride in Gujarat is certainly unique, but it is not as historic as it is being made out to be. Gujarat chief Minister Vijay Rupani said this is for the first time in the history of the country that a sea-plane will land on a water body and that wi

GAIL fast tracks implementation of Pradhan Mantri Urja Ganga project

 GAIL has awarded a contract for laying 520 km gas pipeline connectivity from Dobhi (Bihar) to Durgapur (West Bengal), including 120 km line to Jamshedpur (Jharkhand). With these awards, major contracts for phase two of the Jagdishpur-Haldia and Bokaro-Dhamra natural gas pipeline (JHBDPL) project have

Indane LPG refill booking through FB, Twitter launched

 IndianOil corporation (IOCL) has launched Indane LPG cylinder refill booking through social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Director (marketing) Gurmeet Singh emphasised on the need to leverage technology and the growing social media to provide simpler and effective options to cu

Time for India to adopt DNA forensics to solve crime

Forensic DNA has emerged as the world’s greatest crime fighting technology. Many countries are effectively using forensic labs and protocols to collect, test and compare DNA at crime scenes with that of suspects with promising results. While the law machinery the world over is increasi

Do you think sea-planes can be used to improve air connectivity?

Do you think sea-planes can be used to improve air connectivity?



Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter