As a people, Indians are “unduly sensitive” of patriotism and make it “unforgivable” if something is misinterpreted as a disrespect to national sentiment, even though “it is perfectly okay to be corrupt or to be dishonest”, Infosys co-founder N R Narayana Murthy said on Friday.
He said that such cases are filed on the basis of complaints by “rabble-rousers, (and the) court should stop admitting such cases”.
Speaking at the V R V Memorial lecture on “Indian judicial system – Musings of a lay person”, Murthy said, “As a nation we are unduly sensitive of our patriotism. In India, it is perfectly OK to be corrupt, or to be dishonest – that is nothing that brings you down, because we have seen it in ample numbers day in and day out. But it is unforgivable if you did something that may be misinterpreted as disrespecting any national sentiment.”
The lecture is in memory of V R Venkatakrishnan, a senior lawyer who wrote the book Living with Laws. He died in 2014.
Murthy recalled that years ago, a case was filed against him for allegedly insulting the national anthem, played as an instrumental at a function. He said the case went from the trial court right up to the Supreme Court, and ended in his favour. “(But) I ended up spending Rs 48 lakh on lawyers,” he added.
Murthy also referred to a PIL against cricketer Sachin Tendulkar after he had attended a dinner where the tablecloth had bands of colours of the Tricolour. There was a PIL against Congress leader Shashi Tharoor since Tharoor held his right hand over his chest in a “typical American way” to show respect to the national anthem, he said.
“There are many self-appointed moral vigilantes who file cases against actresses in dress that these moral vigilantes consider unaccepted,” he said.
Referring to protracted legal battles, Murthy pointed out that in October this year the Delhi High Court overturned a trial court’s decision to acquit policemen in the 1987 Hashimpura massacre case of Meerut. He said, “It took 31 years to reverse a trial court acquittal order and sentence to life imprisonment 16 PAC personnel, who had since retired, for the killing of 38 people. The HC said that it ‘pointed to a systemic failure’…”