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Freedom of expression supreme, give security for Padmaavat release: SC to states

Padmaavat is set for release on January 25. 

Written by Ananthakrishnan G | New Delhi | Updated: January 19, 2018 7:36 am
padmavati, padmavati release, padmavat, censor board, padmavati release date, us certificate, cbfc, deepika padukone, sanjay leela bhansali, indian express Padmaavat is set for release on January 25.

Citing freedom of expression and recalling instances of courts refusing to ban works of literature and art, the Supreme Court Thursday cleared the decks for the nationwide release of Padmaavat by staying notifications of the governments of Rajasthan and Gujarat that prohibited screening of the film following protests from the Rajput community.

Underlining that “valued constitutional rights” were at stake, the bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, in an interim order, also restrained other states from issuing similar notifications and directed state governments to provide security to the film crew if they ask for it.

The bench accepted the contention of the petitioners that once a film is cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification, states cannot interfere with it: “We direct that there shall be a stay of operation on the notification and orders issued and we also restrain other states from issuing such notifications or orders in this matter… Once Parliamentary legislation confers the responsibility and power on a statutory board and board grants certificate, non-exhibition of it by states will be contrary to statutory provisions.”

Also Read | In CJI Dipak Misra’s court, Jesus Christ, Mahatma Gandhi, and two lovers of legend

Rejecting the contention of the states that the film’s screening will cause law and order problems, the bench said it was the “duty and obligation of states to maintain law and order”. Senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for film producer Viacom18, urged the court to order security for the film crew, saying they were receiving threats. The court agreed and said the state must provide them security if they ask for it.

Appearing for Gujarat, Rajasthan and Haryana, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought more time to reply to the petition, saying more facts needed to be brought on record. “Suppose there is a rumour against a community which is in majority in my state, can’t I take action,” Mehta asked, adding “we have intelligence inputs and we want to place them on record”.

He repeatedly sought more time, saying there was no urgency in the matter since the film was set for release only on January 25.

Also Read | Why Supreme Court staying the ban on Padmaavat is unprecedented

But Justice Chandrachud countered this: “It is important. Valued Constitutional rights are at stake.” The court will hear the matter next on March 26.

Hearing the parties, CJI Misra reminded them that the film Bandit Queen had passed the test of the Supreme Court. Salve said “in this case, we have agreed to do everything that the Censor Board asked us to do. But someday, I will argue that an artist has a right to even distort history.”

Countering him, Mehta said: “History can be distorted as Gandhiji sipping whisky… the country will not tolerate it. History cannot be distorted.” Salve replied: “Mr Mehta, that is not even distortion of history.” He said the West had even made a film called Jesus Christ Superstar. But Mehta would not give in: “Let us follow Indian standards.’’

Related Post | Rajput groups want ‘unofficial ban’ to stay, states say will study Supreme Court order

Responding to Mehta’s arguments, the CJI said, “If you go by this, 60 per cent of literature, even classical literature of India, cannot be read.” The story of Nala and Damayanti, he said, was once translated by an Odisha scholar. “But the scholar was a puritan. He left out some parts, saying he doesn’t think it should be read now.” The scholar, the CJI said, was born in the 19th Century and was influenced by Victorian morality.

Salve mentioned Lady Chatterley’s Lover and said it was still selling. To this, the CJI remarked that in the 1970s, those who had not read the book were considered ill-qualified to discuss certain topics. As a judge of the Delhi High Court, he said, he had dismissed a petition which sought a ban on the film Dhobi Ghat. The plea was that it affected a community, he said.

Justice Chandrachud recalled his own experience when the Marathi play Me Nathuram Godse Boltoy was sought to be banned. The argument, he said, was that it would disturb public order.

The CJI cited the case of Sakharam Binder, a Marathi play by Vijay Tendulkar that was banned in the country in 1974. He also mentioned instances of courts upholding freedom of expression by refusing to ban books like The Men Who Killed Gandhi and Gandhi: Naked Ambition.

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  1. Chetan More
    Jan 19, 2018 at 8:42 am
    A mature society has mature people who chose noble principles like freedom of expression, justice, liberty and so on even if it means trading off with their own narrow fads and biases that contradicts these principles. Simply put, even if society like india has to give up on it’s ancient cultural norms, fads and biases, it should give it up in favor of keeping up the noble principles alive as the higher level guiding principles. Legislation and it's execution should be in conformity with these higher principles eve if it means paying higher price for it, for in the long run it will be a right direction for the society to take. People opposing release of padmavati are opposing freedom of expression and not what movie makers do for living. The broader and nobler principle of freedom of expression is more important and should be upheld over petty insecurities of historical glory.
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      Vikram
      Jan 21, 2018 at 9:43 pm
      Agreed. Just so long as you also believe Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nasreen's works are no longer banned.
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    2. The Void
      Jan 19, 2018 at 8:40 am
      SO HERE WE HAVE A MOVIE which has a third grade kingfisher calender girl playing role of an Immortal who is an epitome of Honor and Self-Esteem............a degraded joker playing role of a terrorist called khilji and a director who has a history of slavery to underworld, working on direction of underworld terrorists...........Why shouldnt this movie be BOYCOTTED??........ Converts should ask themselves is it right to support a terrorist who brutalized, maimed your families to convert them to islamic cult??.......... We must all BOYCOTT this to show our support to the sacrifices made by our ancestors!! #### Share it on Whatsap/Web-Sites
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        Kurt
        Jan 19, 2018 at 10:02 am
        Converting in to cult? Do you know definition of cult?.. There are many hindu are converting to Islam even today find me forcfull conversion of anyone done with proper proof. Let me expose your fear about your foolish shivalinga or yoni Punja worshipping faith. You fear of loosing mejority due to your own mistreating women, poor or dalits within your community and they are converting by many numbers which you fear the most. But you can't stop the truth. Run and hide behind your lies.. Lol
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      2. The Void
        Jan 19, 2018 at 8:40 am
        HAS THIS BHANSALI SHOWN in this movie the violation of poor and defenseless Hindus to CONVERT them to cult of islam??? Or he has just licked feet of a terrorist like a typical slave?........... How poor and defenseless people were brutalized by terrorists like khilji, taimur and aurangjeb to convert them is a historical fact, but has these greedy hyenas have shown this fact???............ But you know whats ""THE MOST MISERABLE FACT?"" its this, that even after islamic terrorist rule is over, these converts STILL call themselves muslims, they STILL follow arabic culture, read their literature, and STILL praise and defend rapists, murders of their own family ancestors!.... they even name their children after those tormentors! What a pity!!... Its called doing mental slavery, and this HABBIT of mental slavery is due to inter-generational physical slavery for almost 1000 years.... But they need to show right understanding and courage to break free themselves from this mental slavery.
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          Kurt
          Jan 19, 2018 at 11:27 am
          Mughal came to India and they did councur and they lived long time and ruled India. Unlike British who came and enslaved and looted and left. Your hindi lenguage today you are calling national lenguage is copy of urdu. Sanskrit is way far from hindi. You as Indian wash your behind every time you is also taught by Muslims. And if they wanted to convert your ancestors or kill them by force they have done it without any one stopping them. Stop living in dream lies. Your rajput kings were puppets to British and they have killed many Indians in order to save their kingdom. It's in your history. If religion were forcfull implied then today everyone would if converted back. But in that case. It's totally opposite. Funny thing is even today more hindus are converting to Islam. And that's what you fear lol. Keep on barking like fool. :)
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        2. The Void
          Jan 19, 2018 at 8:39 am
          TOOLS OF CONVERSION BY MUGAL TERRORISTS :---- 1. VIOLENCE: Most were converted using this methodology, Which included beating, killing, kidnap, rape to convert people forcibily, terrorists like taimur, khilji, aurangjeb followed this mostly. -------- 2.TAXES: Very low taxes for those who convert and very high taxes for those stay Hindus, like Jazia, agriculture taxes and all other taxes ------- 3.LAWS and PUNISHMENTS: Laws were very harsh and harrasing for those who stayed Hindus, If anyone committed crime and choose to convert, he was given very less punishment. ------- 4.MONEY: Many were given greed of money to convert to islamic cult. -------- 5.LAND: Land was also given to some powerful but greedy and treacherous people if they convert..... SOURCE:: Various history books on medieval India, you can read yourself also...... Its was the great resistance and bravery of our previous generations who refused to convert and fought back that saved this land from becoming islamic state.
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            Vikram
            Jan 19, 2018 at 8:39 am
            Great. Now remove the bans on Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nasreen's works.
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