Padmaavat ban: The Supreme Court on Thursday, stayed the ban on Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming movie, Padmaavat, clearing the decks for Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh starrer’s nationwide release on January 25. A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra also restrained other states from issuing such notifications or orders prohibiting the exhibition of the film. “We direct that there shall be a stay of operation on the notification and orders issued and we also restrain other states from issuing such notifications or orders in this matter,” the bench which also comprised of Justices AM Khanwilkar and DY Chandrachud, said.
This decision came as a huge relief for Sanjay Leela Bhansali who has been struggling hard to take his film to the theatres and he has only two men to thank for it: Senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi who were representing Viacom 18 and other producers of the movie. The two Marquee lawyers presented their case in a straightforward manner in the court, firmly stating that states have no power to issue such notifications banning the exhibition of a film when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) had given a certificate for its release.
Harish Salve, who started trending on Twitter because of his arguments, described the ban on the movie by 4 states as ‘constitutional breakdown’ and argued for the liberty of speech and inventive liberty. “They are saying we’re distorting historical past. It was not the intention of the makers to distort historical past. However sometimes, I wish to argue how artists ought to be allowed to distort historical past as effectively,” Salve said.
When Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, who was representing Rajasthan, Gujarat and Haryana, told the bench that there were reports suggesting law and order problem in these states and the CBFC, while certifying the movie, might not have gone into these aspects, Salve countered by saying that once the CBFC has granted certificate for the movie, the states cannot ban its exhibition. “This is lawlessness. The states can’t say we have political obligations to cater to, so we will not allow screening of a film,” he said.
Referring to a judgment by the Supreme Court in 2011, in director Prakash Jha’s case, Salve said that the top court had clearly held that states have a constitutional obligation to maintain law and order.
Rohatgi also established the fact that states cannot act like a “super censor board” when the CBFC has already granted the certification for the movie. “States have to maintain law and order. When the CBFC has passed the film, states can’t do it (Prohibit exhibition of film). They can’t be a super censor board,” he said.
Padmaavat which is scheduled to release on January 25, is based on the saga of the historical battle of the 13th century between Maharaja Ratan Singh and his army of Mewar and Sultan Alauddin Khilji of Delhi. The set of the movie was vandalised twice – in Jaipur and Kolhapur, while its director Sanjay Leela Bhansali was roughed up by members of the Karni Sena last year.