Two days after the Punjab government got a rap from the Punjab and Haryana high court for not taking action against rapper Honey Singh, the Punjabi singer was booked at the city police station here under Section 294 (obscene acts and songs to the annoyance of others in public place) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
On Thursday, the police received directions from the under secretary (home), after which the first information report (FIR) was registered at 11:30pm.
Under Section 294 of the IPC, the accused can be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to three months, or with fine, or with both.
“We have registered a case against Honey Singh and started an investigation,” said Nawanshahr senior superintendent of police (SSP) Dhanpreet Kaur.
The matter had reached the HC through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Nawanshahr-based non-governmental organisation (NGO), Human Empowerment League of Punjab (HELP), through its general secretary Parvinder Singh Kittna.
The PIL had sought directions to set up an effective mechanism to curb the menace of lewd songs. The PIL, filed through advocate HC Arora, had submitted that all limits of decency were being violated by certain singers. The petitioner had particularly mentioned Honey’s song “Main hoon balatkari” (I am a rapist), stating that it had hurt the sentiments of all civilised citizens of the country. But for promoting rape culture, the song had no message to convey, the petitioner had claimed.
The high court bench comprising acting chief justice Jasbir Singh and justice Rakesh Kumar Jain, that heard the petition, had taken exception to the song and remarked that it was difficult to go through the whole of it. The bench, on May 14, had directed the Punjab government to take appropriate action against the singer for the vulgar song. It had also asked for fresh summons to be served on Honey for July 4 through e-mail as he had failed to appear for the previous hearing. The court ordered to implead the Haryana government as well as the Chandigarh administration as respondents in this case, asking them to take action in accordance with the law on the issue of vulgar songs.
Expressing satisfaction at the registration of the FIR, Kittna said other such “irresponsible” singers should also be taken to task. “The Punjab government is not taking the issue seriously. At a hearing, the government submitted in the high court that a policy was underway to check cultural vulgarity, but on the next date, it washed its hands of its responsibility by stating that obscene songs could be downloaded from any online source,” rued Kittna.
He alleged that the NGO’s complaint, submitted to the Nawanshahr police on January 1, was kept pending for several days before he was told that it had been forwarded to the Gomti Nagar police station in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh), where a case had already been registered against Honey.
“The dilly-dallying made us invoke the high court’s intervention under Article 226 of the Constitution,” he added.
The SSP claimed that it was not under any pressure that the police had not taken action when the complaint was submitted. “The complaint was referred to the police station where a case had been registered against the singer,” she said.
When asked about arresting Honey Singh, Nawanshahr SSP Dhanpreet Kaur said the matter would first be thoroughly investigated. “It is a bailable offence. Moreover, we are yet to receive a copy of the high court’s directions,” she added.