The Supreme Court on Friday said it would not direct the government to take steps for withdrawal of cases against painter M F Husain, nor ask it to take steps for his return to India.
A bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan told Jammu and Kashmir Panthers Party chief Bhim Singh that it was not possible to grant the prayer sought in his public interest litigation. It said, "If he is in Doha, what is the problem? It is up to him to return to India."
The 95-year-old artist recently gave up his Indian passport and accepted Qatari citizenship. Husain has been living in self-exile for over four years.
His decision to leave India followed the registration of 95 criminal cases in various parts of the country. Husain was slapped with obscenity charges for his allegedly blasphemous paintings of Hindu gods and goddesses. The Supreme Court has already clubbed the cases and directed a common
trial in Delhi.
The apex court’s decision came on the PIL that wanted the court to direct Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to intiate steps to bring back Husain. The Supreme Court, however, said it was not possible to quash the cases as private individuals filed them.
The PIL claimed Husain’s fundamental rights stood violated as he was unable to return to India due the cases. It referred to an earlier SC order in which it had said that no exception should be taken to artistic expressions.
The PIL had argued that Husain travels freely across the world, except India where "he faces legal harassment and physical threat."
It stated that the cases registered were by "the persons associated with the same political party".