Only three cases are now pending in a lower court in Delhi against eminent artist M.F. Husain relating to complaints against his nude paintings of Hindu goddesses and the Bharat Mata.
Though several cases were reportedly filed against Mr. Husain, only seven registered in Maharashtra, Gujarat and Delhi came to light through the media as the courts had summoned Mr. Husain. Of the seven cases, four were quashed by the Delhi High Court in May 2008 by Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul.
While dismissing the criminal complaints, the judge said: “A painter has his own perspective of looking at things and it cannot be the basis of initiating criminal proceedings against him. In India, a new puritanism is being carried out in the name of cultural purity and a host of ignorant people are vandalising art and pushing us towards the pre-renaissance era. A painter at 90 deserves to be sitting at his home and painting his canvas [rather than living in exile].”
The Supreme Court in September dismissed appeals filed against this order and upheld the quashing of proceedings against Mr. Husain.
While refusing to allow the prosecution against the painter on obscenity charges, Chief Justice of India K.G. Balakrishnan had observed: “There are so many such subjects, photographs and publications. Will you [complainant] file cases against all of them?” It is art. If you don’t want to see it, then don’t see it. There are so many such art forms in the [Hindu] temple structures.”
The Supreme Court had also rejected the complainant’s argument that the painter be summoned before the court to explain his paintings.
The remaining three cases are pending in the Patiala House court.
Of the three, one pertained to a complaint filed in Delhi in 2006 in which investigation is still pending.