Padmaavat producers moved Supreme Court against ban of its release in four states

Following the ban in four states, the producers of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat have knocked the doors of Supreme Court after receiving clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for a normal release in every state. The governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana have banned the film saying its release may present law and order situation.

A Bench, comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, measured the proposal of the counsel of the producer that the matter be heard instantaneously because of the ban by Rajasthan, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana mentioning law and order issues. The Bhansali’s film is based on Mohammad Jayasi’s poem Padmavat, starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in the lead roles. The film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali witnessed protests across India for allegedly distorting history, a charge that the makers of the film denied strongly.

The film was initially titled as ‘Padmavati’, which was later changed to Padmaavat as suggested by the CBFC. Padmaavat was cleared by the CBFC for release with U/A certificate and a set of five modifications. The film has been experiencing violent protests by the fringe group, Shri Rajput Karni Sena who guilt the ace filmmaker and lead actors of insulting Rajputs and the community’s honor. The protestors, on the other hand, also issued death threats against Bhansali and Deepika over allegations that the queen has a dream sequence with Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji in the movie, which was clearly denied by the filmmakers.

The makers of Padmaavat released a new poster on Monday with no faces, noting the changes in bold and comforting everyone that the film “upholds the honor of the Rajput community”. The Bhansali’s film is all set to release on January 25, set for a box office clash with Akshay Kumar’s PadMan.

The Khap Panchayat and The Freedom to Love: SC

The Supreme Court today while dealing with a petition filed in 2010 by an NGO Shakti Vahini, talked about the concept of falling in love and marrying their chosen one.

There have been incidents of violence against the couple, who choose their own life and way forward, defying the rules and norms laid down by the community and the society. Such incidents are known as honour killing where the couple’s peaceful co-existence and individual lives are put to danger just because they went against the rules laid down by their fathers, brothers and their community.

The famous Khap Panchayats of the villages, which have on several occasions used the mandate of the village to scuttle not only the individual freedom, but also have acted as a bar to prevent any maturity on the part of the elders of the community over issues that call for evolution with time, but are dear to them due to age old cherished beliefs and customs.

The tyranny of the Khap Panchayats continues to be one of the kind which transgresses to the levels of intolerance, for example the occasions where the Panchayats banned the use of cellphones by young girls and wearing of jeans or skin fit lower garments were barred. There have even such situations where Panchayats have assumed the roles of a Family Court, thereby adjudicating the potency of the spouses,or annulling the marriage completely.

This does not end here when they, in the name of honour conjure the people to meddle with an inter-religious marriage or an inter-caste marriage. Such occasions are seen to have happened on many occasions. This does not only happen in the villages, but also is a feature in Tier-2 cities of India that are a home to the most rapidly evolving population in the country, not to mention the Tier-3 cities.

The social intolerance breeds high in various communities and the woman/girl who chooses to take a  man from another caste as her partner for life, is often subjected to the illusory honour that surrounds the girl, and is destructive to the father and the brother,or rather the entire family, and the community too.

It is a very simple expression of homogamous marriages being exaggerated to an extent where it becomes impossible for the people to accept the individual freedom of the girl and the boy involved.

The halo of honour has led to several couples living in a situation of spite and threat, or even getting killed which has not been monitored by the Police. The Police is not most of the times aware of any such threat, because such couples live under the belief that law would not aid their association, while the Supreme Court in  the spirit of giving a sigh of relief to such lovers, has allowed them to live, without fear, though there may  be no law, yet the concept shall be evolved.

The bench comprising of the Chief Justice, and Justice DY Chandrachud, and AM Khanwiljar, has done a great job, yet the evolution of the principles need various quarters to walk in for a more productive approach to the controversies that surround love marriages in India.


Attorney General Venugopal believes Supreme Court crisis will take 2-3 days to settle

On Tuesday, the Attorney General K K Venugopal said that the crisis in the top court seems to be unresolved and hoped it will be “fully settled” in a couple of days, comments that come a day following he stated that everything was settled in the higher judiciary. A crisis surged on January 12 following four senior judges – Justices J Chelameswar, Ranjan Gogoi, Madan B Lokur and Kurian Joseph – candidly condemned the working of the apex court headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra.

Venugopal told PTI that “Yes, I think it has not been settled. Let’s hope things will be fully settled within 2-3 days”. When asked reports about the impasse enduring, Venugopal said he has to agree with the view. Asked whether he had a meeting or spoke with any of the four judges or the CJI, Venugopal said, “Nothing of that sort has happened.” Venugopal, however, hoped that things will be solved in the next couple of days. The four top Supreme Court judges had resumed work on Monday, contradicting the festering tensions erupted by their accusations against the Chief Justice, while the Attorney General had depicted the first-time crisis as “a storm in a tea cup”.

The four judges had highlighted certain issues, including the assigning of cases in the top court, and said there were certain problems affecting the nation’s highest court. On Sunday, the Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra had met a seven-member delegation of the Bar Council of India and Supreme Court Bar Association President Vikas Singh and had assured them that the crisis would be resolved soon and amiability would conquer.

Probing the Prayers: SC

A bench of justices Navin Sinha and RF Nariman sent notices to the Kendriya Vidyalayas for their ritual of prayer in the morning assembly, which were Hindu prayers, and were obligatory for all the students to offer prayers, irrespective of their faith.

The petition is moved by a lawyer based in MP, who learnt from his children that they were subjected to the same ritual. The petitioner states that that instead of building scientific temper in the tender minds, the country’s largest school, is promoting fantasies and  a culture of relying on something that they don’t know over themselves.

The petitioner has also asserted that the prayers in Hindi and Sanskrit are imposed on students from the minority communities as well, who might not find it to be in consonance with their religious beliefs, and it maybe impermissible under the Constitution.

The SC, in response to the said petition, shot off a notice to the government and the Kendriya Vidyalaya Sangathan, and also ordered them to end the practice, pending further orders.

Justice Nariman branded it as a serious issue pertaining to a violation of one’s religious rights in one go. The move will have very far and wide ranging repercussions in the society.

The matter ha not been viewed from a perspective which forms the basic feature of the Indian society, while the petitioner stated that he had no personal interest, but it was for the minorities that he feels, he will be doing a service. While this issue has come to the fore, the petitioner has not taken the notice of the fact the missionary schools, and other minority schools, have a trend to promote their methods of prayers, while at the same time promoting their religion.

This fact also need to be inspected from the roots of the societal values where the majority people irrespective of their caste, and religion, give  a prominent place to the concept of a Supreme Person, in-charge of their lives.

This fact, has its echo in the very schools of our system that cater to the same masses, the name of the lord is invoked to bring down positivity and inculcate values in the students, as has been argued over by prominent educationists over the years.

The fact that prayers in Hindi or Sanskrit are violative of religious beliefs of people, will have to be adjudged from the perspective of the contents of the prayers itself. In the worst case scenarios where the prayer refers to God as a Supreme Person, in any term which excludes idolatry, or cult, shall not be brought in question.

The society has fluctuating morals, while religion provides a constant set of basic human values, is another argument, which will stand good today’s times, while the State must promote a cult of cultural sensitization, while at the same time inculcating morals, the Court will have to take a task which shall not be very fruitful in its outcome.

The Court will have to define morality and supplant strong arguments against theology. Also the Court will have to take on the minority institutions for preaching in their own ways too.

Finding the Truth Behind the Anti-Sikh Riots of 1984

The horrid pictures of the 1984 Anti-Sikh riots remain afresh in the minds of those who saw the riots, and whenever the fact that a community that defended the Vedic Brahmanists from the Muslim tyrants, for years, was persecuted due to a political assassination is worth giving a thought to a vast field of aspects the Indian society.

The Supreme Court while hearing a plea pertaining to the investigation and inquiry into the 241 cases pending against the alleged perpetrators found out that the investigations were not held properly.

The petition is filed filed by S Gurlad Singh Kahlon, a member of the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee, aims to fast-track the process of delivering justice to those who suffered at the hands of the perpetrators.

We recall the name of Indira Gandhi loyalist Mr Jagdish Tytler, who was the main accused in the case, but was granted a clean chit in the case due to lack of conclusive evidence. This happened after a long 20 years after institution of the case against him and others.

The long line of judicial commissions that have been constituted one after the other have been ineffective at administering justice. The common political rhetoric has never gathered around the anti-Sikh riots, thus it saw the rise of the Akalis in Punjab.

Captain Amarinder Singh has ruled, only because of his personal charisma as the one who belongs to the royal family. The Congress, and many national political parties shun the anti-Sikh riots only on the ground, as being a moral retort for the masses, who cherished Indira ji as their supreme leader.

The major national parties, or anybody for that matter would never want the Prime Minister or a Chief Minister assassinated in public. Though, the riots were not a moral retort.

The last commission, or the Special Investigation Team that was constituted closed 186 cases without investigations. The petitioner prayed for justice to the people, and the Court ordered a constitution of a new SIT headed by retired Justices J M Panchal and K S P Radhakrishnan of the Supreme Court to head the new SIT, and look into the closure of 241 cases.

The post apartheid truth type of mode of undoing the acts of barbarianism in the Anti-Sikh riots is one feature that is a feature of the Anti-Sikh riots fact finding path. The State tried to take an active role in the investigation by appointing 10 commissions in the past 27 years, which bore no fruits.

The victims have not been heard, and the way in which the Congress governments gave monetary grants to Punjab in the aftermath of operation blue star, is the only way the State possibly tried to do justice.

Yet the victims voices remain unheard, and the secular fabric needs devoted effort at bringing the perpetrators to justice before it becomes too late.

The newly appointed SIT, must take the cases seriously unless the proverb, justice delayed is justice denied assumes another example.



SC issues notice to Centre on a plea against prayers in Kendriya Vidyalayas

On Wednesday, the Supreme Court agreed to find out whether a Hindi prayer sung in the morning assembly in more than 1,100 Kendriya Vidyalaya schools all over India promotes a particular religion and disturbs the Constitution. While issuing a notice to the government, a bench headed by Justice RF Nariman said that “It is a very important constitutional issue”.

An advocate Veenayak Shah whose children graduated from a Kendriya Vidyalaya filed the petition. He is a resident of Madhya Pradesh, who believes that the practice of prayer generated barriers in developing scientific temperament among students as the whole idea of God and religious faith is given huge priority and inspired as a thought-process among the students. The plea said, “Students as a result learn to develop an inclination towards seeking refuge from the almighty instead of developing a practical outcome towards the obstacles and hurdles faced in everyday life, and the spirit of enquiry and reform seems to be lost somewhere”. “All the students irrespective of their faith and belief, have to compulsorily attend the morning assembly and recite the prayer,” he added in the petition.

He said that if any student failing to do fold hands, closing eyes and reciting the prayer, then they were punished and humiliated in front of the entire school. Shah added that as per the meaning of Article 28 of the Constitution, the common prayer is a “religious instruction” and thus must be prohibited. The Article 28(1) clears that no religious instruction shall be given in any educational institution just maintained out of state funds. The petition said that “The above prayer is being enforced throughout the country in all Kendra Vidyalayas. As a result, parents and children of the minority communities as well as atheists and others who do not agree with this system of prayer such as agnostics, scepticists, rationalists, and others would find the imposition of this prayer constitutionally impermissible”.

Changing Societal Morality: SC to Revisit Naz Foundation Judgment

In December, 2013, the Supreme Court of India gave its landmark judgment wherein it upheld the Constitutional validity of section 377 of the IPC.

The section has remained as it was laid down by Lord Macaulay, in the original draft of the Indian Penal Code. The Delhi High Court, in the same case had struck down the section stating that it was violative of the privacy of the individuals, who establish homosexual relations out of consent.

The judgement was appealed in the SC in the case of Suresh Kumar Koushal & Another vs Naz Foundation and Others. The Supreme Court also dismissed the review petition against the order, and now the curative petitions lie before the judges to take notice of.

A bench of Justices AM Kahnwilkar, DY Chandrachud and CJI Dipak Misra suggested that the judgment above needs to be reconsidered by taking all the aspects in a cumulative manner.

There has been a very deep social debate not only in India but across the globe over legalising the association between people of the same sex. The religious scriptures that command authority over men have announced that the sexual energies are to be used only for the procreation of children, while the society has of late began to recognize the prevalence of homosexuality.

Homosexuality has been studied in psychology where there are proofs of the fact that it is a psychological disorder, while the transgenders and bisexuals are left unexplained, in the lurch of perversion.

Thoughts, are the implants of desire that bears result in time. The emotional aspect of lives is one that nobody but a man himself may control. The choice of individuals to live the way they want describes a lot of aspects about their lives.

The people now a days have developed certain acceptance towards those who don’t do things in the dark. They do it openly and with consent. At least they remain better placed than those who rape women or force males into homosexual activities.

The legal sphere accords granting of liberties to men and women to live as they want, while the society uses its weight to avoid any frictions between the accepted norms.

Indian society is known to have been conservative. While the Court is faced with a narrow view of the society which represents the LGBT community, the majority of people who live straight lives, need to come out strong to use their weight to transgress upon individual freedom.

There has been a wide scale of support to people who have come out openly as LGBT, and the recent facebook demonstrations for support have assumed significance.

Thus the overall picture will be very thorny, as the SC treads along the road less taken to find the majority at one end and a minority at the other.

As the law is used as a means to social end, there will have to be a lot of ground work and opinion moulding before an abrupt order is enforced. The possibility of rioteering and ruckus, honour killings and suicides may be followed as has been seen in the case of Special Marriages.

The law will have to move cautiously.