India

Ashis Nandy: India court tells police not to arrest academic

  • 1 February 2013
  • From the section India
Ashis Nandy
Image caption Ashis Nandy is one of India's top academics

India's Supreme Court has ordered the police not to arrest leading academic Ashis Nandy for making controversial remarks at the Jaipur Literature Festival.

But the court advised Mr Nandy to be more cautious when speaking.

The sociologist was reported as saying that some of India's most disadvantaged groups were the "most corrupt".

He later clarified saying he meant that the poor and disadvantaged were more likely to get caught than the rich.

On Thursday, he filed a petition in the court after fears that he would be arrested.

On Friday, the bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir told Mr Nandy that he must "exercise caution" in the future if the "intention was not to cause hurt to the sentiments of another person or community".

In his petition, the academic had argued that lodging a case against him "is against the basic principles of the fundamental rights which envisages that free speech is the foundation of a democratic society".

He said that in the "surcharged environment... and the rabid statements made by important political personalities, his physical safety is itself compromised and there is imminent threat of injury to him".

Criticism

A number of political parties have criticised Prof Nandy's remarks, but several academics have also supported him.

Former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh state and low-caste Dalit leader Mayawati said that he should be "sent to jail".

"Most corrupt people come from Other Backward Classes, scheduled castes and scheduled tribes [three disadvantaged groups]," Prof Nandy was quoted as saying during a panel discussion at the festival on Saturday.

He later said that he was sorry if anybody was hurt because of the misunderstanding and clarified his comments.

"I have been misquoted. What I meant was that most of the people getting caught for corruption are people from OBC, SC and ST communities, as they don't have the means to save themselves unlike people from upper castes," he is quoted as saying by The Hindu newspaper.

Dalit scholar Kancha Ilaiah said Prof Nandy had made "a bad statement with good intentions".

"While referring to Dalits as corrupt, Prof Nandy probably missed out saying that upper castes [in India] have always been corrupt," Prof Ilaiah said.

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites