Negative portrayal of disabled people in films promotes discrimination: Supreme Court

The Uncut


New Delhi. The Supreme Court on Monday said that stereotyping of persons with disabilities in visual media and films promotes discrimination and inequality. The apex court said that such language which humiliates persons with disabilities, further marginalizes them and increases the barriers to their social participation should be carefully considered.

A bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said that words create institutional discrimination and words like ‘crippled’ and ‘mentally challenged’ have a ‘low status’ connotation in the social perception about persons with disabilities. The apex court said on the framework of the portrayal of persons with disabilities in the visual media that they contribute to negative self-image and perpetuate discriminatory attitudes and practices in society.

He said, “Language that individualizes disability and ignores disabling social barriers (for example words like suffering, pain) should be avoided or should be adequately marked as language contrary to the social norm.” This decision was given on a petition filed by Nipun Malhotra. Malhotra had said that derogatory words have been used for Divyangjan in the Hindi film ‘Aankh Micholi’.

While delivering the verdict, a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud said, “Words create institutional discrimination and words like ‘crippled’ and ‘mentally challenged’ are considered inferior in social perceptions about people with disabilities.” The bench laid down several guidelines and said that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should seek the opinion of experts before giving permission to show the film.
It says, “Visual media should strive to portray the diverse realities of persons with disabilities. It should showcase not only their challenges but also their successes, talents and contributions to society. They should neither be ridiculed nor presented as exceptional on the basis of myths.”

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