New Delhi: No jokes should be targeted towards any racial group, Sikh community representatives on Tuesday told the Supreme Court which agreed with its suggestion that instead of an "unenforceable judical order", there was a need for sensitising the society from the formative stages.
Asking various petitioners from the community including the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee to come up with suggestions in six weeks, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said it would examine the framing of guidelines to stop circulation of racist or communal jokes in the cyber world.
Senior advocates from the community, A P S Ahluwalia and R S Suri, said there was a need to sensitise students not to circulate jokes that portray any community or sociological group as a "butt of jokes".
They said the community was against making and circulating of jokes on Sikhs, Biharis and calling people from Northeastern states by a particular term.
"There was a need for a change in orientation. May be time has come to look at a bigger and larger picture," Suri said before the bench, which also comprised Justices R Banumathi and U U Lalit.
At the outset, Suri said in 68 years of his life, he has seen people from the community doing very well in different spheres. "We have had many leaders who were Sikhs and even a Sikh President and Prime Minister," he said.
The CJI then intervened to say "You had a Sikh army chief also. Soon you will be having a Sikh as the Chief Justice of India (referring to Justice JS Khehar)."
The bench said "we can stop jokes when they are circulated for a commercial purpose. But suppose, if your (pointing out to the arguing lawyer) colleague in the canteen makes a joke, you also laugh. Can we stop him? Will you file contempt (complaint) against your colleague? " Suri said "we don't want unenforceable order."
At this, the bench asked him, "you tell us what can possibly be done as you suggested that there was a need for sensitising."
The senior advocate sought time and he was granted six weeks to come up with suggestions.
The bench also referred to jokes and the book on it by noted author Khushwant Singh saying people considered them as quality stuff.
However, woman lawyer Harvinder Chowdhary, who has filed a PIL in this regard, said she has done research and claimed that hardly 300 people from the community or few of them enjoyed such jokes. Sociological aspects have a bearing on the issue, she added.
Her effort to bring the issue before the apex court was appreciated by the senior lawyers representing the Committee, who said she has done remarkable work and research.
The apex court on January 4 had said it will seriously consider examining a plea to ban websites displaying jokes on them.
"If we think that your community do feel bad about it, we will definitely seriously consider it," the apex court had said.
"Does your community stand by you," the bench had asked Sikh woman lawyer, who said Delhi Sikh Gurduwara Management Committee (DSGMC) was with her.
During the hearing on October 30 last year, the bench 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? Prepare your case well. We will hear you," the bench had said.
The PIL had said there were over 5,000 websites which displayed jokes on Sardars projecting the members of the community in poor light.
Chowdhury has sought direction to Telecom Ministry to filter websites which targetted the Sikh community on the ground that it was violative of sections 153A and 153B of the Indian Penal Code.
"All the jokes relating to Sikh community should be stopped. My children are humiliated and feel embarrassed and they don't want to suffix Singh and Kaur after their names," Chowdhury had claimed....