April 17, 2018

India: No religion can stop its portrayal, says Supreme Court

The Telegraph
No religion can stop its portrayal, says SC

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Monday said no one can stop people from portraying their religious beliefs through writings, paintings or movies, refusing to vacate an April 10 directive for unhindered exhibition of a film based on Guru Nanak's life and teachings.
"It's ( Nanak Shah Fakir) just portraying the life of the Guru. No religion can say, 'You can't write or portray our religion'," the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud said.
"We cannot enforce a rule that no one may write a book on a religion or make a painting on religion. These are secular matters. You can only say you can't denigrate," the bench added.
It declined to entertain at this point the Shiromani Gurdwara Prabhandak Committee's plea that the Sikh Guru's life and teachings could not be portrayed by any "human character".
The SGPC is responsible for managing gurdwaras and Sikh places of worship.
Senior advocate P.S. Patwalia, who appeared for the SGPC, had contended that the religious body was entitled to the protection of Article 26 of the Constitution that guarantees freedom of religion.
But the apex court felt that such rights could not override the fundamental rights of free speech guaranteed under Article 19.
"The film has won national acclaim.... It has got a national award. The film is meant to venerate the Guru and create awareness among the people. We don't want to intervene. Better watch the movie. We will hear both of you," Justice Misra told Patwalia.
On April 10, the court had directed the Centre and all states and Union territories to ensure the unhindered screening of the movie that was released on April 13.
The directive had come on a plea moved by the producer, Harinder S. Sikka, who said the SGPC had banned the film's release even after the censor board had cleared it on March 28.