Growing instances of religious "intolerance" have to be "nipped in the bud" as the country can "ill-afford" that they spread like "wild fire", Delhi High Court has observed.
Dismissing a PIL against Aamir Khan's blockbuster PK, a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice R S Endlaw said "the present petition is an instance of a growing tendency in the country of intolerance and which tendency has to be nipped in the bud and unless done so, is likely to spread like wild fire and which the country can ill-afford."
The bench also observed that just as the Constitution protected the right of an artist to portray social reality in all its forms, seeing a film was a conscious choice of the spectator and those offended by the content or the theme of a particular film were free to avoid watching it.
The High Court said the film, which broke the box office records with over Rs 600 crore global business, illustrated the social evil prevalent and cannot be considered as contemptuous of the essential tenets and beliefs of Hindu religion or as promoting communal attitude.
"We are unable to hold the film or any sequence thereof being contemptuous of the essential tenets and beliefs of Hindu religion or as promoting communal attitude. The said sequences have to be necessarily shown to illustrate the social evil prevalent," it further said in a recent order.
The bench dismissed the PIL seeking directions to delete "objectionable" scenes from PK claiming that the contents of the film have hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.
"The petitioner is assuming that the faith and belief of persons in their religion, whether it be Hindu or any other, is so frail as to be shaken or be scandalized by the depictions in the film to which objection is taken. The said assumption in our view is totally mistaken.
"The sequences of the film to which objection is taken are in the nature of a satire bordering on parody on certain Hindu customs and practices. The said sequences in the film can thus also be seen as socially beneficial, helping a better understanding of the religion," the court said.
The bench further said that "in a diverse country as ours, citizens and residents profess nearly all religions, people are used to a high level tolerance in the matters of religion".
"The Constitution protects the right of the artist to portray social reality in all its forms. Some of that portrayal may take the form of questioning values and mores that are prevalent in society," it said.
The High Court also said that watching a film is a conscious choice of the spectator and those offended by the content or the theme of a particular film are free to avoid watching the film.
The High Court was hearing a PIL filed by a local priest Ajay Gautam seeking directions to delete "objectionable" scenes from the movie PK claiming that the contents of the film have hurt the religious sentiments of Hindus.