The decision came in response to a PIL against UP chief minister Mayawati’s alleged description of Gandhiji as a ‘natakbaaz’ (a hypocrite or gimmicky).
The petitioners — advocate Ravi Kant and Sukumar — had cited Gandhiji’s contributions to argue that he deserved respect from every citizen. A Bench comprising Chief Justice of India K G Balakrishnan and Justice B S Chauhan patiently heard the petitioners, but declined to lay down a code enjoining upon citizens to show respect to Gandhiji.
“We totally agree with you on what you said on Gandhiji. But, we are not here to frame or issue guidelines to citizens for showing respect to Mahatma Gandhi. We cannot entertain such PILs,” the Bench said.
Firstly, criticism of the Mahatma based on his stand on caste is not new. Much has been said about how Gandhi did not attack the institution of caste directly, although, ironically Gandhi did face a fair amount of flak from orthodox sections of society even for the limited stand he did take.
Secondly, this sort off goes someway in proving the Apu Theory which states that, basically, we don’t know the difference between respect and servitude. Sure, we should be so grateful that the Mahatma got us freedom that we should have a law (Big Brother anyone) to enforce respect for him. And, we better not let ordinary Indians handle the national flag in any way they like. In fact, let’s penalise them with three years in jail if they do. Also, it really doesn’t matter whether you have farmers committing suicide in Vidharbha; spending Rs 200 Crore to revere Shivaji tho chaltha hai.