A bench of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud prima facie accepted the petitioner’s contention that once Central Board of Film Certification had cleared a movie, States cannot interfere with it.
“Once the Parliamentary legislation confers the responsibility and power on a statutory board and board grants Certificate, non-exhibition of it by states will be contrary to statutory provisions”, the court said in its interim order.
The apex court also reminded that it was the “duty and obligation of States to maintain law and order”.
Senior Counsel Harish Salve who appeared for Viacom18, the movie producer, urged the court to order security for the film crew saying they were being threatened. The court agreed to this and said keeping in view of the situation, the State must provide them security if they ask for it.
Appearing for the states, Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought for more time to reply to the petition saying more facts needed to be brought on record.
“Suppose there is a rumour against a community which is in majority in my state, can’t I take action”, Mehta asked and added, “we have intelligence record and we want to place them on record”.
The CJI did not accept this and said: “If you go by this, 60 percent of literature, even classical literature of India cannot be read.”
Mehta repeatedly sought for more time saying there was no urgency in the matter as the film was set for release only on January 25.
But Justice Chandrachud countered this saying “it is important, valued Constitutional rights are at stake”.
The court will hear the matter next on March 26.
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