Re­li­gion can’t bar a per­son from ren­der­ing own ver­sion of it: SC

Court makes ob­ser­va­tion in Nanak Shah Fakir case

The Hindu - - NATION - Kr­ish­nadas Ra­jagopal

It is a vi­o­la­tion of sec­u­lar­ism for a re­li­gion to bar a per­son from writ­ing a book about it or por­tray­ing it through a painting, Jus­tice D.Y. Chan­drachud orally ob­served on Mon­day.

A re­li­gion can­not be adamant that its sole por­trayal should be con­fined to just one “book.” It can­not say that oth­ers are not free to sketch or ren­der their ver­sion or ideas about the re­li­gion. Such a bar is just not en­force­able, Jus­tice Chan­drachud said.

The Supreme Court made the ob­ser­va­tion on a plea by Sikhism’s high­est re­li­gious bodies to stop the re­lease of the Na­tional Award-win­ning and Cen­sor Board-cer­ti­fied movie Nanak Shah Fakir for hav­ing a hu­man char­ac­terise Guru Nanak. The film won the Na­tional Award for pro­mot­ing na­tional in­tegrity. Chief Jus­tice of In­dia Di­pak Misra, who led the Bench, said the film was only a “ven­er­ated pro­jec­tion of Guru Nanak in cel­lu­loid lan­guage.”

‘Not or­di­nary award’

“Any in­junc­tion [on the film] will be slightly stretch­ing the con­sti­tu­tional prin­ci­ples,” the Chief Jus­tice ob­served.

“This is a re­gional film which has won a Na­tional Award for pro­mot­ing na­tional in­tegrity... it is not an or­di­nary award,” Chief Jus­tice Misra re­marked.

The Chief Jus­tice said the film “ac­tu­ally makes peo­ple aware of the Gu­rus.” He said the is­sue in the case was not the es­sen­tial fea­tures of Sikhism, but in­stead, whether this movie has vi­o­lated the pro­vi­sions of the Cine­mato­graph Act.

At one point, the Chief Jus­tice asked the opin­ion of se­nior ad­vo­cate Ram Jeth­malani, who was sit­ting in the front row in his robes. “A re­li­gious in­junc­tion [against the hu­man por­trayal of the Gu­rus] can­not be con­verted into a le­gal in­junc­tion... Hu­man be­ings are por­tray­ing the Gu­rus... So what?” Mr. Jeth­malani, who has seen the film, said in court.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate P.S. Pat­walia, who is ap­pear­ing for the Sikh re­li­gious bodies, said the Sikhs did not be­lieve in liv­ing Gods or idols. He said the film had ac­tors play­ing the Guru and His fam­ily. Mr. Pat­walia said the SGPC, a statu­tory body, had re­solved way back in 2003 against movies fea­tur­ing the Gu­rus. This res­o­lu­tion had been re­it­er­ated time and again over the years. “Under Ar­ti­cle 26, Sikhs have the free­dom to man­age their re­li­gious af­fairs, and ev­ery re­li­gion has rules,” Mr. Pat­walia sub­mit­ted.

Se­nior ad­vo­cate R.S. Suri, on be­half of the movie’s pro­duc­ers, said his client has great re­spect for the re­li­gious bodies and has in­cor­po­rated changes sug­gested by them. He said the film’s mes­sage was that a “per­son is a per­son first be­fore he or she be­came a Hindu or a Sikh, etc. Peo­ple should not be di­vided over re­li­gion. The movie is that.”

To­wards the end of the hear­ing, Chief Jus­tice Misra asked whether the ac­tor play­ing the Guru could de­sist from tak­ing credit. “Let him not be named, let it be an ab­stract per­son...” Chief Jus­tice Misra sug­gested orally. Fi­nally, the court asked both par­ties to come up with sug­ges­tions to re­solve the dis­pute and posted the case for hear­ing in May.

The film was a ven­er­ated pro­jec­tion of Guru Nanak in cel­lu­loid lan­guage, the CJI said.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from India

© PressReader. All rights reserved.