No Jokes! SC Not to Regulate Santa-Banta Puns on Social Media
New Delhi: After months of hearing petitions against so-called Santa-Banta jokes on social media, the Supreme Court refrained from regulating them. A top court bench led by former chief justice TS Thakur had agreed to look into demands by some members of the Sikh community, including its temporal head, the Shiromani Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee (SGPC), over the anti-minority tone of such jokes. It had suggested a sensitisation programme in schools to deter bullying of minorities.
A new bench of justices Dipak Misra and R Banumathi that began hearings on matter declined to set any guidelines on the matter.
“How can we lay down guidelines and what kind of guidelines? We are not getting into the concept of jokes and sense of humour. What kind of guidelines can we lay down on a particular community?” Misra said. “Why should this court pass any order? For each religion is there a guideline? If there is a singular grievance let the law take its own course. How does it become a PIL (public interest litigation)? Why should the court get into it? There can be state-controlled guidelines, but courts shouldn’t interfere.”
Misra, who is next in line to be chief justice after incumbent JS Khehar demits office in August, had earlier made the national anthem compulsory at the beginning of every movie show.
He left it to the government to decide on the question of humour. “If it is a societal phenomenon… a psychological phenomenon, then it is in the legislative domain,” Misra said. “The courts cannot lay down moral guidelines for citizens.” Misra also wondered whether such judicial order would be enforceable. Who would enforce such a norm, who should it be issued to, Misra asked senior advocate RS Suri who represented the Delhi Gurudwara Prabandhak Committee.