Hearing a petition against movie Udta Punjab for allegedly portraying the state in a bad light by depicting the drug menace, the Punjab and Haryana High Court on Monday ordered the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and film producer, Fantom Films Pvt Ltd, to arrange a pre-release screening of the movie on June 14 for the High Court’s representative to analyse and submit a report.
A vacation bench headed by Justice M Jeyapaul, on a petition filed by Jalandhar advocate Wattan Sharma, also issued a notice to Centre, CBFC and the film producer to show cause as to why the film, slated to be released on June 17, should not be restrained from public exhibition.
The court ordered the CBFC and the film producer to screen the film on Tuesday at CBFC’s theatre in Mumbai, at 4 pm, so that it could be viewed by the amicus curiae (advocate appointed to assist the court) Sanjay N Kantawala and representatives of the petitioner, Central government, CBFC and the producer. The amicus curiae has been directed by the court to submit his report “fairly commenting on the content of the film” on June 16 so that the court could take a decision whether the film is fit for public exhibition.
The petitioner, on the basis of several media reports, has submitted that the film has portrayed Punjab in a bad light and has done “negative branding” of Punjab and Punjabis, especially the Punjab youths. “If the film is released, it will have adverse repercussions all over Punjab,” argued the petitioner’s counsel Karan Bharihoke.
During the arguments of the case, the court questioned the petitioner’s advocate, “Does the relief sought by you has direct bearing on the petition by producer before Bombay High Court?”
To this, Bharihoke replied, “Petition before the Bombay High Court relates to a challenge made by the producer against the inaction by the Revisional Committee of the CBFC, whereas the present petition has been filed challenging the content of the film on the ground that it was unfit for exhibition.”
Sharma, in his petition, had sought directions for issuance of appropriate orders calling for the records and the unedited print of the film. The petitioner had submitted that the court should view the film to take a decision whether or not to permit the public exhibition of the film and had also sought directions to the Centre government and the CBFC not to issue any certificate for public exhibition for the film during the pendency of his petition.
The case has been adjourned for next hearing to June 16.
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