A plea has reached the Kerala High Court condemning the Kerala Lalithakala Akademi for selecting a cartoon for its Honourable Mention Award.
Justice N Nagaresh on Monday issued notice in the matter.
Kerala Lalithakala Akademi was established in 1962 to conserve and promote visual arts: painting, sculpture, architecture, and graphics. It is an autonomous cultural organization of the State.
The Secretary of the Akademi declared the Awards for 2019 and 2020. According to the petitioner, all the award-winning cartoons portray India in a poor light and carry a distorted version of reality.
However, what triggered the petitioner was the fact that a controversial cartoon drawn by Anoop Radhakrishnan, Secretary of Kerala Cartoon Academy, bagged an honourable mention from the Akademi.
The cartoon titled COVID -19 Global Medical Summit depicted a cow draped in a saffron shawl as a representative of India. The Indian representative was pictured as a cow along with representatives from England, China and the USA who were all shown as doctors.
This had sparked protests across the State. Nevertheless, the cartoon won the honorary award along with the rice of Rs 25,000 prize money.
The petitioner trust argued that the cartoon prima facie demeans and disparages India:
"...it is explicit that it is authored to demean and disparage India. Especially in the international arena, as it is clear-cut from its anti-national artistic elements. It is noteworthy; since the entire world is coping with a very extraordinary situation amid this pandemic. Many factions of the nation, irrespective of political tint, started agitation and protest against the Respondents breaching public order."
It was further argued that the cartoon was in bad taste considering that it was published at a time when hundreds of human lives were lost to the pandemic and many more fighting psychological and economic evils.
In that context, the petitioner argued that the impugned cartoon was a deliberate exaggeration intended to produce a satirical effect and that it was intrinsically a weapon of ridicule.
According to them, it was authored with a deliberate intention to create public disorder.
Aggrieved by the same, they approached the respondents to review the award, however, this was a futile attempt.
On the said grounds, the trust prayed that the award be withdrawn. Considering the alleged detrimental effect it has on the nation on a global scale, they argued that the respondents could not seek protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.
The plea also accused the criteria adopted by the respondent by declaring award to the said cartoon to be illegal, unreasonable and without any rationale.
Case Title: Haindaveeyam Foundation v. Union of India & Ors.