States can't ban film cleared by censor board: SC
Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN Aug 20, 2011, 12.56am IST
NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that state governments
cannot ban a film, which has been cleared by the censor board for
public screening, on the apprehension that it could cause a law and
Clearing decks for release of Prakash Jha's film 'Aarakshan' in UP, a
bench of Justices M K Sharma and A R Dave said it was the state's duty
to maintain law and order and quashed an order banning the film's
screening for two months.
It rejected the Mayawati government's plea that reservation continued
to be a sensitive issue despite apex court's rulings and any
derogatory reference to it could spark violent reaction leading to a
law and order problem.
The court said: "It is for the state to maintain law and order
effectively and meaningfully." It said reservation as a social issue
needs to be debated in every forum. "We feel reservation is a social
issue and in a vibrant democracy like ours, public discussion is
necessary. Such discussion on social issues bring about awareness for
effective working of the democracy," the bench said.
It also said divergence of opinion was important to a healthy
democracy. "In a democracy, it is not necessary that every one sings
the same song," the court said.
The state through senior advocate U U Lalit said a high-powered
committee comprising eight principal secretaries previewed the film
and found certain dialogues inflammatory enough to trigger a law and
order situation on the sensitive issue of reservation. On the
recommendations of the committee, a temporary ban was put on the
screening of 'Aarakshan'.
The bench agreed with Jha's counsel Harish Salve that the ban amounted
to pre-censorship and said: "Once the Central Board for Film
Certification has cleared the film for public viewing, the screening
cannot be prohibited in a manner as has been done by the UP
The court found that the CBFC had included members from the SC, ST and
OBC communities as well as experts in law and dalit movement for the
scrutiny of the movie before certifying it for public screening on
July 20. The UP government had banned the film on August 9.
"Once an expert body has cleared a film, the state cannot go behind
law and order situation to stall its screening in theatres," the court
said erasing lines of worry drawn on the face of Jha, who watched the
court proceedings in rapt attention.
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