Bengaluru— The Karnataka High Court has granted a respite to seven students from Bangalore's Jain University Center for Management Studies, who were embroiled in a controversy over a satirical play that insulted the revered constitution maker Dr. B.R. Ambedkar and the Dalit community. The court stayed the proceedings in the case filed against these students under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act (SC/ST Act).
The interim order was issued by a Single Judge, Justice M Nagaprasanna, in response to a plea from the seven students seeking the quashing of the First Information Report (FIR) and the ongoing trial proceedings against them.
The incident took place during the Yuva Janotsava event organized by the college on February 8 at Nimhans Hall in Bengaluru. As part of the event, the students had presented a satirical short play critiquing the reservation system. However, the play took a disrespectful turn by making objectionable references to the Dalit community and Baba Saheb Dr. B.R. Ambedkar. In the play, they altered the name of Dr. B.R. Ambedkar to "Beer Ambedkar" and used the one-liner "Why be a Dalit when you can be D-Lit?," which was deemed insulting and derogatory towards Dalits, ridiculing their struggles and hardships. The video of the skit went viral on social media and triggered widespread outrage.
The snippets of the skit containing in a video, circulated on various media platforms, that was watched by thousands of people across the country. Aakshay Bonsade, the State Member of Vanchit Bahujan Yuva Aaghadi , who too saw the video, gave a written complaint to the Nanded Superintendent of Police in this connection , requesting to take action as per the Section X(3) of the SC/ST Act, as well as Sections 153, 153A, 295, 499, 500, 503, 504, 506 and 34 of the Indian Penal Code.
Several students who attended the festival initiated an online campaign on Jhatkaa. Org, demanding an apology from the university and the event's organizers, Under25. Following the controversy, the Assistant Director of the State Social Welfare Department filed a complaint on February 10, 2023, and the police registered an FIR under the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Subsequently, the students were arrested but later released on bail. They then approached the High Court seeking the dismissal of the case.
Advocates Ashwini Ravindra and Sumana Naganand represented the students in court.
Akshay Bansode, the state member of Vanchit Bahujan Yuva Aaghadi who had given a written complaint to the Nanded Superintendent of Police in this connection, requesting to take action as per the Section X(3) of the SC/ST Act and various other sections of the Indian penal code after the controversy erupted issued a statement, which read , "Nobody will accept laughing and doing comedy in India on the chief architect of the Indian constitution, Bharat Ratna Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar, the entire Dalit society, and its condition, at any cost. We never demanded to destroy these students' future." He also appealed to the newly elected Congress government in the state to take action against the university administration.