New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated that freedom of expression of an author of a film cannot be curtailed or crippled by a private body on a perception that there will be some kind of law and order problem.
The court allowed the release of Hindi film Nanak Shah Fakir across the country and asked the authorities to ensure that no disturbance is caused in its exhibition.
A three-judge bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud passed this order on a writ petition filed by the film producer Harinder Singh Sikka challenging the decision of SGPC not to allow the release of the film on April 13. Main Sikh bodies, including SGPC and Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), had been objecting to the movie for allegedly portraying the founder of Sikhism Guru Nanak Dev in human form and had also appealed to Akal Takht Giani Gurbachan Singh to issue directions to impose a ban on its screening.
The SGPC had earlier issued NOC to Mr Sikka but later withdrew it despite the launch of music of the film.
The Bench agreed with senior counsel R.S. Suri’s submission that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has issued the certificate with certain modifications to be done by the producer and the examining committee after due examination has cleared the film for unrestricted exhibition, there cannot be any kind of impediment for the release.
The Bench said it is well- settled that once the CBFC grants certificate, there cannot be any kind of obstruction for exhibition of the film.
“That having been done, we do not see any body, group, association or individual can create any kind of disturbance in exhibition of the film. It is becoming a law unto themselves and not respecting the law that governs the land,” the Bench said.
Further the court pointed out that once the film is cleared by the Censor Board, unless the certificate is nullified or modified by any superior authority, the producer or distributor of the film has every right to get it exhibited in a movie hall.
The film was initially cleared by CBFC on March 30, 2015, and slated for release in April 2015, but after widescale protests, it was banned in Punjab for two months.
After the ban, Mr Sikka had withdrawn its worldwide release. He claimed to have held deliberations with the SGPC on various issues relating to the movie and, as suggested, carried out necessary modification. Following this, he had again approached the CBFC for clearance.
The CBFC had again cleared the movie on March 28, 2018, but now SGPC, through a letter dated March 30, has withdrawn its support to the movie....