The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the SGPC for imposing restrictions on the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ and cleared the decks for its nationwide release on April 13. It said that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) grants certificate, “there cannot be any kind of obstruction of a film”.
Hours later, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh in a statement said that the government will not intervene in the issue, keeping in view the filmmakers’ decision not to release the movie in the state.
The Akal Takht had on Monday decided to impose a complete ban on the movie amid protests by several Sikh organisations against the portrayal of Guru Nanak in the movie, saying any depiction of a Sikh Guru or his family members in living form was against the tenets of the Sikh religion.
The makers of the film in their petition before the Supreme Court had stated, “Looking at the sensitivity of the issue and the public sentiment involved”, they had decided “not to release the film in Punjab for the time being”.
Issuing notice to the Centre and states on a plea by the film producer, former Navy officer Harinder Singh Sikka, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud on Tuesday asked them to “see to it that wherever the film is released, the law and order is maintained and no one shall be allowed to create any kind of disturbance.”
The court criticised Sikh bodies objecting to the movie, saying that after the CBFC had granted the certificate, “we do not see how any body, group, association or individual can create any kind of disturbance in exhibition of the film”.
It added, “If such activities are encouraged, the same has the potentiality to bring in anarchy and cripple the right of freedom of speech and expression.”
The Punjab CM’s statement said that the government would review the situation and take an appropriate decision if the same becomes necessary in future. “While authors, film-makers had the creative freedom of expression, such freedom could not be allowed to violate the religious sensitivities of any community,” Amarinder said in the statement. He also appealed to Sikh organisations not to resort to violence to express their resentment against the movie.
The SGPC has decided to file a review petition against the SC order on Wednesday.