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Thursday, January 26, 2012

US-based Sikhs file lawsuits against Jay Leno, NBC

JALANDHAR: Two separate complaints against Leno have been lodged in the US - one with the Federal Communications Commission and the other with the superior court of California.

The US-based Sikh rights group " Sikhs for Justice" (SFJ) has lodged a complaint with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) of the US government - which regulates the broadcast of television programs, analyzes the complaints and conducts investigations - against the "objectionable depiction of Golden Temple" byNBC Talk Show Host Jay Leno on January 19, 2012.

Meanwhile California based Dr Randeep Dhillon has filed a suit for damages for Libel in the superior court of California against Jay Leno and NBC.

The SFJ complaint filed with Joel Gurin, bureau chief, consumer & governmental affairs bureau at FCC states that "Jay Leno's depiction of the Golden Temple as the home of the rich is racist, derogatory, defamatory, contrary to the reality, inimical to the principles of Sikhism, and thus hurtful to the sentiments of the Sikh community." The complaint demands imposition of sanctions against Leno "for spreading racism" and against NBC "for airing contents ridiculing a place of worship."

Attorney Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal advisor to SFJ, said "while we value and honour freedom of speech protected by the First Amendment but the First Amendment is not a tool to ridicule a religion or to spread untrue, biased and racist information." This is not the first time that Jay Leno has shown disrespect and bias towards Sikhs and their faith. Earlier, in 2007 Jay Leno had called Sikhs as 'diaper heads' referring to the turban worn by Sikhs in compliance with their religious edict.

"Jay Leno's wrongful depiction of the Golden Temple is more hurtful to the sentiments of the Sikh community because any disrespectful or derogatory remark about the temple brings back the tormenting memories of June 1984 Operation Blue Star in the minds of the Sikhs in which thousands of Sikh pilgrims were killed," attorney Pannun added. SFJ also announced to hold a protest rally on February 2 in front of the NBC Headquarters in New York City demanding that the NBC sack Jay Leno for his remarks about the Golden Temple.

Dr Randeep Dhillon's libel suit in the superior court of California against Jay Leno and NBC said that the "publication" (comments) was made intentionally and it hurt the sentiments of the all the Sikh people in addition to the plaintiff.

It said, "The publication and broadcast was libelous on its face and clearly exposes plaintiff, other Sikhs and their religion to hatred, contempt, ridicule and obloquy because it falsely portrays the holiest place in the Sikh religion as a vacation resort owned by a non-Sikh. Holding that the publication and broadcast warranted an award of punitive and exemplary damages the petition has prayed for general damages, special damages, punitive damages and any further relief as deemed just and fair by the court."

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