Two weeks ago, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul wrote a fantastic verdict upholding the principle of freedom of speech and expression:
Coming down heavily on the "new puritanism" being carried out by "ignorant people", the Delhi High Court on Thursday dismissed criminal proceedings against eminent painter MF Husain, overruling the charges of obscenity against his paintings. [...]
"A painter has his own perspective of looking at things and it cannot be the basis of initiating criminal proceedings against him," Kaul said in his 74-page judgement.
"In India, new puritanism is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and a host of ignorant people are vandalizing art and pushing us towards a pre-renaissance era," he observed.
The court said the question of obscenity was nowhere to be seen in his paintings, as it was his perspective of looking at things and one should not challenge that.
At that time, several bloggers -- including Sunil Mukhi and V. Venkatesan -- celebrated that verdict. Given the assault on free speech from pretty much all of the political spectrum, it is a verdict worth celebrating.
Yesterday, it was the turn of two other Delhi High Court judges -- Chief Justice A.P. Shah and Justice S. Muralidhar -- to bat for free speech. They dismissed the lawsuit filed against the inclusion of the 300 Ramayanas paper in a Delhi University history course.
Holding that the history syllabus under-graduate course was based on "well researched" materials, the Delhi High Court rejected the contention by the petitioners that Hindu gods and goddesses were referred to in a "defamatory" and "derogatory" language saying these are folklore and interpreted in various ways. [...]
"These are folklore. Let the university decide it. It's not for the court to interfere in the matter. We are here to defend Article 19 (freedom of speech and expression) and not to defy it," the bench said. [Bold emphasis added].