Supreme Court has been called upon to decide the limits of artistic freedom

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Supreme Court since the decision favouring full freedom of thought and expression on internet now, has been asked to decide matter regarding the limits of artistic freedom that can be applied in literary work and art. There has been a complaint registered against a publisher of a magazine and a Marathi poet for obscenity and also using blasphemous languages in relation to political sarcasm with regard to Mahatma Gandhi.

A Marathi poem written by Vasant Dattatray Gurjar, “Gandhi Mala Bhetla Hota” in 1984 that was published in Bulletin, in 1994 which is a magazine of All India Banks Association.  Poet has ridiculed and put the main character in the poem as having met Mahatma Gandhi in many occasions in modern-day in India and explains that how Mahatma felt seeing the present Gandhis who have gone too far away from his ideas and so feels very upset at it and goes right back into his Samadhi at Raj Ghat, has been explained in the poem by the poet.

In 1994 publisher, Patit Pawan Sanghatana and the poet were charged for publishing this poem and accused them both for using bad linguistic approach and bringing enmity between different segments of people in the society but initial case was lodged in 1995. Although the poet and publisher have been discharged for creating enmity between different segments of the society, the lower court and Bombay High Court did not quash the charges regarding obscenity that were laid against them.

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The bench comprising of Justice PC Pant and Justice Dipak Misra had recently heard the publisher’s appeal matter which was put before the court but poet had not yet appealed against his charges on obscene matters.

Gopal Subramanium, who is the Senior Advocate was appearing for the publisher and he had made a very good plea to examine the literary works like poem and play.  He contended that Article 19(1)(a) includes boldness of thought too. He further said that in a democracy we cannot keep on networking to check what has been written. Poet just wanted to convey his message to the audience and there was nothing offensive in it was the contention put before the apex court.

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by Sushma Javare.