Supreme Court asks committee to suggest how to stop jokes on the Sikh community

NEW DELHI: Santa-Banta jokes could soon be regulated. A committee of former judges will suggest guidelines before the Supreme Court for checking jokes on the Sikh community.

Hearing a petition that asks for a ban on Sikh jokes, the court today asked the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee – the top Sikh body – to submit a report based on the suggestions.

The main petitioner, lawyer Harvinder Chowdhary, was emotional during the hearing as she shared what she described as a “humiliating” experience being a Sikh. She also referred to a boy who had allegedly committed suicide, upset by one of the many jokes that lampoon the community.

Ms Chowdhary’s petition argues that such jokes are a violation of the Sikhs’ right to equality and an attack on the dignity of the community.

In October, the court had said: “This (Sikh) community is known for a great sense of humour and they also enjoy such jokes. You must have gone through the jokes of Khushwant Singh…This is only an amusement. Why do you want it to be stopped?”

The petitioner, who was later joined by the Gurdwara Management body, says there are over 5,000 websites showcasing jokes depicting “Sardars” as persons with low intellect.

The court questioned how any ban on Sikh jokes can be enforced.

A bench led by Chief Justice TS Thakur said while the court acknowledged the Sikh community’s contribution to the country, court orders had to be within the “judicial dimension”.

“We cannot say something which is impossible for implementation,” the judges commented. Ms Chowdhary was asked whether she could determine whether a joke is derogatory and to what degree.

The court said today that it would take up the case after a month, based on the report of the Sikh body.