A day after famous painter late Sobha Singh’s daughter Gurcharan Kaur joined issue with Punjab government for using a digital copy of her father’s portrait of Guru Tegh Bahadur on its calendar violating the copyright act, the government has regretted the use, and dropped the painting from birth anniversary celebrations of the Guru.
Special Principal Secretary to Punjab CM, Gurkirat Kirpal Singh Monday wrote to Gurcharan Kaur saying that the painting, that was to become a part of celebrations of 400th birth anniversary of the Sikh Guru, would not be used by the state government anywhere.
Sobha Singh’s daughter had blasted the Punjab government in the media that they used her father’s painting without seeking her permission which was the violation of the copyright act.
In his letter to Gurcharan Kaur, Kirpal said, “Sobha Singh was one of the greatest painters to have been born in Punjab and had been bestowed with the honour of State Artist by the government of Punjab and Padam Shri by the Government of India. He had earned widespread fame for his artistic illustrations of the Sikh gurus. Although idolatry and depiction of Gurus in paintings is not recognised in the Sikh religion, the artistic impressions created by Sobha Singh have, for many decades, served as a reminder of the gurus and their teachings as people went about their daily chores. The calendar of the government of Punjab for the year 2021 carrying an illustration of Guru Teg Bahadur ji was also meant to adorn the walls of the government offices, which are daily frequented by a large number of citizens, and to serve as a reminder of the forthcoming Prakash Purab celebrations.”
He added: “Since the design of the government calendar was intended to be dedicated to the 400th Prakash Purab Celebrations of Guru Teg Bahadur ji, it was, therefore, felt that the inclusion of the painting by Sobha Singh shall be the most befitting tribute to the great painter by the State Government, as his painting would have been carried in all publications related to the celebrations. “
He said the digital copy of the painting was downloaded from a website, where it was nowhere mentioned that there were copyright issues attached to it.
Kirpal said that the digital copy on the calendar of events for the ceremony was being punished by the government in the newspapers since September but no objection was raised.
Recalling the recent celebrations of the 550th Prakash Purab of Guru Nanak Dev in 2018-20, he said that there were no complaints or enforcement of copyrights as the Punjabi populace freely distributed and circulated artistic impressions and songs and shabads dedicated to Guru Nanak Dev in print and social media.
“Swayed by the emotions shown by the community, the Department of Information and Public Relations rightly assumed that a similar feeling continued to persist during the Prakash Purab celebrations of Guru Teg Bahadur ji and accordingly went ahead in collecting the best artistic content befitting the stature of the celebrations. While doing so, it assumed that you would also willingly associate the creations of Sobha Singh ji with the historic Gurpurab celebrations and accordingly failed to seek formal permission for the depiction of the paintings, which was admittedly a mistake. However, this cannot be undone now and the Department can only regret the same. But the Department would also urge you to recognise the noble and not-for-profit intent of the government,” the letter stated.
Gurkirat Kirpal added: “We salute the spirit of Sobha Singh… and respect the copyrights with his successor and assure you that the paintings shall no longer be associated with the celebrations.”
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