Freedom of speech is not limitless, says SC on satirical poem on Mahatma Gandhi - Alternative Media Forum


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Thursday, 14 May 2015

Freedom of speech is not limitless, says SC on satirical poem on Mahatma Gandhi

New Delhi(web team): Keeping the issue of the Marathi satirical poem on Mahatma Gandhi in mind, the Supreme Court on Thursday has said that freedom of speech has to be given a broad canvas but with limits.

Marathi poet Vasant Dattatraya Gurjar had written a poem 'Gandhi Mala Bhetala Hota' ('Gandhi Met Me') in 1984. The Bank of Maharashtra Employees Union in 1994 published the poem in its in-house magazine.

On December 10, 1994, an organisation called Patit Pawan Sanghatana had filed a complaint with police in Pune, alleging that the said poem is obscene and that its contents are likely to lower the image of the father of the nation.

Devidas Ramchandra Tuljapurkar, General Secretary of the Bank Union and the magazine editor, has been facing charges of publishing the 'vulgar and obscene' poem since then.

But on April 17, 2015, the Supreme Court passed a verdict saying that under the garb of poetic freedom, one cannot make such vulgar comments on Mahatma Gandhi,

"Mahatma Gandhi is not a symbol. He is neither a mythical nor a mythological character, and abusive, vulgar and obscene words cannot be used under the garb of poetic freedom. Such words can be used in a fiction character but not in Gandhi's case," the bench of justices Dipak Misra and Prafulla C Pant observed during the day-long arguments placed by senior advocates Gopal Subramaniam and Fali S Nariman.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court said that even though freedom of speech should be given a broad canvas, it is not absolute.The Supreme Court on Thursday observed that Mahatma Gandhi cannot be interpreted as 'a symbol' and artistic freedom cannot be cited to justify vulgar and obscene expletives attributed to the father of nation.

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