Polity & Governance Prelims cum Mains

Religion can’t bar a person from rendering own version of it: SC

Details :

The News:

  • The Supreme Court rejected a plea by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) to stop the screening of the national award winning movie Nanak Shah Fakir.


  • The Akal Takht, which is the highest spiritual body of the Sikhs, and the SGPC, a statutory body constituted under the Sikh Gurudwaras Act of 1925, are opposing the certification of the film for exhibition by CBFC.
  • The movie has Guru Nanak portrayed as a human character.
  • There is a resolution passed in 2003 by the SGPC, restraining any living person from playing any of the ten ‘Guru Sahiban’, their family members or the ‘Panj Pyaras’ in a depiction.
  • According to SGPC, the issue herein is covered under the right of Sikhs to manage their own religion as per Article 26(b).
  • Therefore, they had earlier pleaded the apex court to stop the release of the National Award-winning and Censor Board-certified movie Nanak Shah Fakir.

Court’s observations

  • The film was a venerated projection of Guru Nanak in celluloid language.
  • It actually makes people aware of the Gurus.
  • A religion cannot be adamant that its sole portrayal should be confined to just one “book.”
  • It cannot say that others are not free to sketch or render their version or ideas about the religion.
  • Therefore it is a violation of secularism for a religion to bar a person from writing a book about it or portraying it through a painting.
  • The issue in the case was not the essential features of Sikhism, but instead, whether this movie has violated the provisions of the Cinematograph Act.
  • Religious injunction should not act as legal injunctions.
  • Such a bar is just not enforceable.

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