Commenting that the court “could not tell a filmmaker how he is to make his movie”, the Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its judgment on a plea filed by filmmaker Pankaj Butalia against cuts recommended by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in a documentary film on long-term violence in Kashmir.
“Which guidelines are being breached? The issue of Kashmir is a controversial issue but that cannot lead to a situation where I tell a filmmaker to delete this, delete that,” the court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher observed.
The remarks were made after Central government counsel Gaurav Sarin told the court that comments made in the documentary, Textures of Loss, could “incite a law and order situation”. Sarin, in his arguments, also stated that the government apprehended a “powder keg” situation in Kashmir and “a security threat or violence” if the documentary was allowed to be aired without cuts. He further argued that the board had only recommended a five-second cut in the documentary — which is over one-hour long — and said this was a “reasonable restriction” under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.
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Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for Butalia, had argued that the proposed cuts violated the filmmaker’s freedom of speech and expression.
The cuts proposed by the CBFC include parts of comments made during interviews of the father of a child killed during the 2010 stone-pelting episode in Srinagar, and the wife of a man arrested on allegations of being a militant.
Butalia, who had based his documentary on the Kashmir Valley region between 2005-2013, had approached the High Court in January this year against the cuts.
The CBFC had asked Butalia to cut three scenes from the documentary and insert a disclaimer that the views expressed in the film by individuals were solely their views.