26 Mar : The Supreme Court refused to direct the government to take steps to ensure return of self-exiled painter M F Husain, who has been residing in a Gulf country, to India and withdrawal of cases against him.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan refused to entertain a petition seeking a direction to the government to withdraw all criminal cases against the 95-year-old artist to ensure his return to the country.
“If he is in Doha, what is the problem,” the bench queried while asking the petitioner to withdraw his plea.
Husain had recently given up his Indian passport and accepted Qatari citizenship. He has been living in self-exile for nearly four years following a spate of cases in India over his controversial paintings of Hindu goddesses.
“The prayer made in the petition cannot be granted,” the bench said.
The judges were hearing the petition filed by Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party Chief Bhim Singh in which he had pleaded that the court should ask Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to take steps to bring Husain back to India.
The apex court said it cannot direct the Union of India to withdraw the cases as the complaints were filed by private individuals.
The bench pointed out that it had transferred all the cases against him for adjudication in Delhi.
The PIL was filed on 26th February seeking direction to the Centre for withdrawal of all cases lodged against Husain and ensuring his return to the country.
Singh, a former MP, had claimed that Husain’s fundamental rights stood violated as he was unable to return to India due the 900-odd cases slapped against him for his alleged blasphemous paintings of Hindu deities.
The PIL referred to an earlier Supreme Court observation in connection with one of the cases against Husain that no exception should be taken to artistic expressions.