THE MINISTRY of Information & Broadcasting and organisers of the International Film Festival of India (IFFI) on Thursday appealed to a division bench of the Kerala High Court against a single bench order directing them to screen the Malayalam film S Durga at the IFFI’s ongoing edition in Goa.
In their appeal, the ministry and organisers said the name of the film’s protagonist Durga alludes to a “revered principal Goddess in India”. They said that the prefix “Sexy”, which was later abbreviated to “S”, has “great potential” to create a law-and-order situation and hurt religious sentiments within and outside Kerala. The division bench will consider the petition on Friday.
The movie, directed by Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, had been removed from a list prepared by the jury for the Indian panorama section at the festival being held in Goa from November 20-28.
On Monday, acting upon a petition by Sasidharan, the High Court’s single bench of Justice Vinod Chandran ordered that the certified version of the film be screened at the festival.
The ministry and IIFI organisers have challenged that order on two grounds: maintainability of the plea in the Kerala High Court since the film had been certified by the regional office of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC); and, the jury included the film for screening after viewing the uncensored version.
“The single bench does not take into account the doctrine of separation of power and completely ignores the definitions carved out by the Constitution between justice delivery system, legislature and executive. The single bench ought to have appreciated that the concern of law and order are best left to be assessed by the executive and not superseded by judicial decisions,” the petition stated.
It said that censor board certification cannot improve the case of the petitioner. And that the director, who submitted the uncertified version before the jury, hadn’t obtained mandatory exemption within the required time span. The petition said that certification is not a substitute for exemption, which is mandated by panorama regulations.
Stressing that the petitioner should have approached the appropriate authority against the exclusion of his film, the petition said its inclusion at this stage would upset the festival schedule.