New Delhi, Nov 17: Amid the waging Padmavati controversy and threat to actress Deepika Padukone, the Supreme Court of India on Thursday told the courts to be slow in passing any restraint order and curbing artistic freedom of speech and expression. Batting for artistic freedom and the rights of the filmmakers, Supreme Court refused to put a ban on the release of a film, “An Insignificant Man”, based on Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal. The apex court also asked courts to go slow stopping the release of a film, drama, book or novel. The ruling has come at a time when protests against Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Padmavati is scaling up across the nation.Also Read - Kerala Leaders to Face Trial as Supreme Court Rejects Plea Over Damaging Assembly Property
In the order, rejecting Nachiketa Walhakar’s petition to stay the release of the film based on the life of Arvind Kejriwal, the bench said, “A film or a drama or a novel or a book is a creation of art. An artist has his own freedom to express himself in a manner which is not prohibited by law and such prohibitions are not read by implication to crucify the rights of expressive mind.” (Also Read: Padmavati Row: Shots Fired in Chhittorgarh as Protests Escalate) Also Read - Delhi to Nominate Doctors, Health Workers For Padma Awards: CM Kejriwal
Petitioner Walhakar is also facing charges for throwing ink at Kejriwal in 2013. His counsel said that the particular footage has been added in the movie to portray the AAP chief as a victim, which, he says, is a violation of a fair trial. Also Read - India Unlocks: From Delhi To Karnataka, States Relax Covid Curbs: Check What's Allowed Where, What’s Not
The bench also said that a thought-provoking film does not mean it should be puritanical and added that a film must be expressive enough to provoke the conscious and subconscious mind of a viewer. The court also observed that when the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has granted permission for film’s release, the court “should exercise utmost restraint in not granting any injunction”.
“Artists, authors, filmmakers, and dramatists enjoy the right to freedom of expression, which cannot be challenged by others whimsically,” the bench said, adding, “Courts should be extremely slow in passing restrain order. Freedom of speech and expression is sacrosanct and the right should not be ordinarily interfered with.”
A three-judge bench led by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra said, “The right of a filmmaker can’t be curtailed. Courts are to be extremely slow to pass any kind of restraint order in such a situation and should allow the respect that a creative man enjoys in writing a drama, a play, a book on philosophy, or any kind of thought that is expressed on the celluloid or theatre etc.”