January 18, 2018
The controversial Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s flick “Padmavati” again was taken up by the Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra today. In a latest development, the Supreme Court Bench while respecting the freedom of speech and expression as a fundamental right has stayed ban imposed on screening of the impugned movie by the States of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh and Haryana.
The Chief Justice led Three-Judge Bench has granted an interim injunction in favour of the Petitioners, Viacom Productions primarily in view of fundamental right as enshrined under Article 19(1) of Constitution of India.
While pronouncing the order, Chief Justice stated that we are concerned that a film is being banned from being exhibited…expression of a creative content….my constitutional conscience is shocked.
The Apex Court while upholding the freedom of expression of filmmakers in the case made reference to the case Vinod Kumar Kanojia v. Union of India, wherein the Delhi High Court observed that the cinema as a public medium has something to communicate to the society. The grant of certification of cinema is governed by the Cinematograph Act and the Rules framed thereunder. There is a Censor Board under the Act which screens the movies. The said Act prohibits use and presentation of visual or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups. In the case at hand, the name of the movie is “Dhobi Ghat”. It is difficult to understand how an association which is represented by the petitioner can conceive the idea that if a movie is named “Dhobi Ghat”, it is offensive or plays foul of the provisions contained in the 1989 Act. Therefore, we are of the considered opinion that there is actually no public interest.
The film Padmavati is expected to release on January 25.
The Supreme Court has also directed the States to provide security for the screening of the movie.