Press Release- Women groups demand apology from Advocate General West Bengal #Sexist


PRESS RELEASE FROM MAITREE

Date: 07th June 2013, Kolkata

We are writing to you on behalf of Maitree, a women’s rights network of 60 organisations and individual activists based in West Bengal. We strongly condemn the comments made by the Advocate General of West Bengal on 4th June 2013 at the Calcutta High Court regarding the State Election Commission.

The Advocate General’s comment: “The State Election Commission is behaving like a beautiful lady asking for this and that. It is making arbitrary and whimsical desires. Some unreasonable” is sexist and stereotypes women. Instead of legal arguments, the Advocate General distracts from the important political issues and tries to diminish the concerns raised by the Election Commission by resorting to trivial and unparliamentary language to attack his opponent. By doing so, the Advocate General joins a long list of public figures in the country who have made denigrating comments about women which go against the grains of equality and justice.

The comment should be examined within the larger context of increasing violation of women’s rights in recent times. If the AG of a state can make such a denigrating comment about women, it sends a wrong signal to the public at large threatening the very safety and security of women. This is most unfortunate since one looks to the higher judiciary to uphold values stated in the Constitution.  Thus his comment is far from being humorous as claimed by him and reinforces deep-seated gender bias. We condemn this as an affront to the dignity of a woman.

We demand public apology from him immediately.

#India- Victory for freedom for freedom of expression #FOE #judgement


By T S Sekaran – CHENNAI

24th January 2013 0

In an important judgment having far-reaching consequences, the Madras High Court has declared unconstitutional certain provisions of the TN Dramatic Performances Act and Rules, which mandated censorship of drama scripts by the police/district administration.

Justice K Chandru declared sections 2(1), 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Act and 4 of the Rules,  while allowing a writ petition from journalist, writer, stage actor and director NS Sankaran alias Gnani, on Wednesday.

The Act was originally introduced by the British regime way back in 1876 to gag the freedom fighters and patriots. After Independence, on coming to know that the pre-constitutional 1876 Act would not pass the constitutional test under Article 13 of the Constitution, many governments introduced their own version of censorship of plays. And the TN government introduced the TN Dramatic Performances Act in 1954.

As per the Act, two copies of the drama script should be submitted to the police/district administration three weeks in advance. Permission to enact the drama might be either denied or granted after removing certain dialogues. The Act also provided for imprisonment for three months or fine or both in some cases for any violation.

Gnani contended that the authorities concerned were neither artistes nor persons having aesthetic sense to judge whether a play contained objectionable scenes/dialogues and hence it was uncalled for. The decision was conveyed at the eleventh hour leaving no time to make alternative arrangements.

Advocate General A Navaneethakrishnan submitted that the government was agreeable to provide a provision in the Act and the Rules making it mandatory for forwarding the script to the TN Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram for better appreciation of artistic nuances. There was also a provision in the Act to appeal before the HC, he added.

Justice Chandru observed that a defective order could not be cured in an appeal. When the play was sought to be enacted in a public place, time was the essential factor. But, the Act did not specify any time limit for approval. AG’s submission that the script could be referred to the Nataka Mandram did not merit any legal acceptance as the act did not contemplate any such requirement from an outside agency for opinion.

The opinion would not be binding on the authority and it would only remain as an advisory. By making an amendment to the Rule, the defect could not be cured. Once it was found that the provisions of the Act were arbitrary and excessive power had been given to the delegates, certainly it had to be held that it was unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. In the absence of statutory backing, no such mechanism could be introduced by the State, the judge said and declared the sections as ultra vires of the Constitution.

 

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