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Important Judgements of the Supreme Court in 2015 | Part 6



 

#11. Obscene language cannot be allowed against historically respected personalities

Devidas vs. State of Maharashtra

Summary:

The Apex Court in a significant judgment rendered held that in the name of artistic freedom or critical thinking or generating the idea of creativity, a poet or a writer cannot put into the voice or image of a “historically respected personality” like Mahatma Gandhi, such language, which may be obscene.

Background:

  • A Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant was considering the appeal preferred by a bank employee
  • He was alleged for publishing a “vulgar and obscene” poem- ‘Gandhi Mala Bhetala Hota’ (‘I Met Gandhi’) using the name of Mahatma Gandhi in an in-house magazine of the Bank of Maharashtra Employees Union in 1994

SC observations:

  • The freedom of speech and expression “has to be given a broad canvas, but it has to have inherent limitations which are permissible within the constitutional parameters
  • The Supreme Court refused to express any opinion on whether freedom of speech included the freedom to offend
  • In determining ‘obscenity’ under Section 292 IPC, the test evolved by the Apex Court is the ‘contemporary community standards test’

The counter view:

  • The poem does not use obscene words and it does not come within the ambit and sweep of Section 292 IPC
  • The poet has expressed himself as he has a right to express his own thoughts in words
  • The poem actually expresses the prevalent situation in certain arenas and the agony and anguish expressed by the poet through Gandhi and thus, the poem is surrealistic presentation

Section 292, IPC:

  • An object is deemed to be obscene if- It is lascivious or appeals to the pruri­ent interest or if its effect tends to deprave and corrupt person
  • Objects covered- A book, pamphlet, paper, writing, drawing, painting, representation, figure or any other object

You may like to read the critical analysis of the judgement here.

#12. Appointment of Archakas to be made in accordance with Agamas


 

Adi Saiva Sivachariyargal Nala Sanga vs. Government of Tamil Nadu

The Constitutional legitimacy, naturally, must supersede all religious beliefs or practices: Supreme Court

Summary:

The Supreme Court of India, in, has held that appointments of Archakas in temples will have to be made in accordance with the Agamas, subject to their due identification as well as their conformity with the Constitutional mandates and principles. Apex Court bench comprising of Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana made this observation while disposing of a batch of Writ petitions filed against Tamil Nadu Government order regarding appointment of Archakas in temple.

SC observations:

  • The exclusion of some and inclusion of a particular segment or denomination for appointment as Archakas would not violate Article 14 so long such inclusion/ exclusion is not based on the criteria of caste, birth or any other constitutionally unacceptable parameter
  • If the appointment as Archakas is not on the basis of caste or class, the sanctity of Article 17 or any other provision of Part III of the Constitution or even the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 will not be violated
  • If any prescription with regard to appointment of Archakas is made by the Agamas, Section 28 of the Tamil Nadu Act mandates the Trustee to conduct the temple affairs in accordance with such custom or usage
  • The requirement of Constitutional conformity is inbuilt and if a custom is outside the protective umbrella of Articles 25 and 26, the law would certainly take its own course
  • The constitutional legitimacy, naturally, must supersede all religious beliefs or practices

Published with inputs from Swapnil

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