scorecardresearch
Follow Us:
Monday, January 24, 2022

Madras High Court order is a relief. It feels good to laugh with the court

🔴 The list of taboo subjects seems to be growing daily; comedy shows are cancelled and cases filed if a militant organisation gets wind of irreverence. It is this context that makes Madras High Court Justice G R Swaminathan’s order calling for a “duty to laugh” so refreshing.

By: Editorial |
Updated: December 23, 2021 8:52:01 am
The judge’s humour will likely not be appreciated by the dour guardians of hurt sentiments. For the rest of us, it was good to laugh with the Court.

Judges, when they hold court, are usually sombre and serious, their verdicts typically range from lofty to grim. But sometimes, judges are faced with the theatre of the absurd — all things seem now prosecutable on one pretext or the other. The list of taboo subjects seems to be growing daily; comedy shows are cancelled and cases filed if a militant organisation gets wind of irreverence. It is this context that makes Madras High Court Justice G R Swaminathan’s order calling for a “duty to laugh” so refreshing.

Justice Swaminathan’s intervention was prompted by the Vadipatti police filing an FIR against an office-bearer of the CPI(ML) for a Facebook post while on a holiday with his family. The caption read, “Trip to Sirumalai for shooting practice”. “Any reasonable person,” asserted the order, “would have laughed it off”. After all, “Paper warriors are also entitled to fantasise that they are swadeshi Che Guevaras”. The judge pointed to the hyper-sensitive times we live in. “A real cow, even if terribly underfed and emaciated, shall be holy in Yogi’s terrain. In West Bengal, Tagore is such an iconic figure that Khushwant Singh learnt the lesson at some cost. Coming to my own Tamil Desh, the all-time iconoclast ‘Periyar’ Shri E V Ramasamy is a super-holy cow… But all over India, there is one ultimate holy cow and that is national security.”

Then the Court took a flight of fancy, rare in the judiciary. He imagined a seasoned satirist — like Jug Suraiya or E P Unny (chief political cartoonist at this newspaper) — demanding that the “correlative of the right to be funny” is the “duty to laugh”. In other words, rather than arrest people for making a joke that is off-key or touches close to home, the powers-that-be need to lighten up. The judge’s humour will likely not be appreciated by the dour guardians of hurt sentiments. For the rest of us, it was good to laugh with the Court.

This editorial first appeared in the print edition on December 23, 2021 under the title ‘A duty to laugh’.

📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines

For all the latest Opinion News, download Indian Express App.

  • Newsguard
  • The Indian Express website has been rated GREEN for its credibility and trustworthiness by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources for their journalistic standards.
  • Newsguard
0 Comment(s) *
* The moderation of comments is automated and not cleared manually by indianexpress.com.
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement