The Supreme Court on Monday issued a notice to the Punjab government on a petition filed by filmmaker Prakash Jha,who has sought a symbolic compensation on account of the loss due to a three-day delay in releasing his movie,Aarakshan,in Punjab last year.
Jha had moved the apex court,challenging the July order of Punjab and Haryana High Court,wherein he had sought a compensation of Rs 6.69 crore owing to the monetary loss due to the delay in the screening of his movie. The HC had dismissed his plea,asking him to move a civil court to decide the question of quantum of damages.
Appearing for Jha,advocate Harish Salve clarified to a Bench,led by Justice R M Lodha,that the real question was violation of the petitioners fundamental right. It is not a simple case of damages that will require determination by a civil court. I am raising questions of constitutionality and remedies under the public law. These can only be decided by a writ court… Give me a token compensation of Re 1 and I will not protest. But my rights as a citizen must be protected. I dont want to quantify the damages,but whatever the court deems fit should not be paid out of tax payers money but from officers responsible for banning the film.
He said Jhas intention was to make a point that a government could not invoke its extraordinary power and ban screening of a movie,which has already been cleared by the censor board.
The Bench recorded the statement that Jha was not insisting on the quantum of damages,and sought a response from Punjab government within 12 weeks.