MF Husain can`t be compelled to return, says apex court

Last Updated: Friday, March 26, 2010 - 20:54

New Delhi: Self-exiled painter M F Husain,
who has taken up Qatar citizenship, cannot be compelled to
return to India by the courts or the Prime Minister, the
Supreme Court observed on Friday refusing to direct dropping of
criminal cases against him.

"What can the Prime Minister do if a person decides
to live in Doha (capital of Qatar). They are international
citizens they can live anywhere in the world," the apex court
observed while refusing to entertain a public interest
litigation filed by Bhim Singh, chief of the J&K Panthers
Party and senior advocate.
Singh, in his petition, said he has written a letter
to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh urging him to take steps to
bring 95-year old Husain back to India and sought the apex
court`s direction to the PM for ensuring his return.

Husain, revered by many as India`s Picasso, has
given up his Indian passport and accepted Qatar citizenship
in February this year. 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 in the nude.

A bench of Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan-- Justices J
M Panchal and Deepak Verma also refused direction to the Union
Government to withdraw the 95-odd criminal cases registered
against him for alleged obscene paintings as they were all
lodged by private individuals.

"How can the Union of India be directed to withdraw
the cases when they are all private complaints, If he is in
Doha, what is the problem ?" the apex court observed, asking
Singh to withdraw the petition failing which it would be
dismissed.
Sensing the court`s mood, Singh withdrew the PIL.

The bench also pointed out that it had already
transferred all the cases registered against Husain in
different parts of the country for adjudication in Delhi.

Singh, a former MP, had claimed that Husain`s
fundamental rights stood violated as he was unable to return
to India due to the cases slapped against him for his
alleged blasphemous paintings.

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.

Singh later said he would file another writ petition
before the apex court on the ground that Husain was forced to
surrender his Indian passport and obtain Qatar citizenship out
of "coercion" and fear of being victimised by a series of
criminal cases.

PTI



First Published: Friday, March 26, 2010 - 20:54

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