Misuse of Article 19(1)(a) in the name of protecting ideologies, rebuked

Madras High Court Considering need to avoid the misuse of Article 19(1)(a) of Constitution, in the case represented V. Raghavachari and K. Rajendra Prasad, bench of V. Ramasubramanian, J allowed the writ petition and directed the respondents to provide protection to the petitioner to enable them to have their name exhibited in the film and in the publicity materials.

The Court further held that once a film is certified for screening by the Central Board of Film Certification thereafter no group or organisation or association can demand any further censoring on the ground that something in the film hurts the religious, communal, racial or linguistic sentiments of someone or the other. If they do so then such action of demanding the removal of any dialogue or scene or sub-title or title from a film which is already certified for release by the Central Board of Film Certification, would tantamount to a blackmail. Then, if it is allowed to succeed, it would automatically lead to extortion.

In the present case, the petitioner had produced a feature film named “Kathi” but few organisations and political parties issued threats that they would not permit the screening of the film as the petitioner company was managed and controlled by persons who are very close to the President of Sri Lanka and that therefore, the film deserved to be boycotted. Fearing serious consequences, the petitioners got their names removed from the prints as well as the advertisement and none of the groups indulged in any protest, peaceful or violent after that. Taking note of this fact, the Court held that the protest was not based on any ideology as the protestors were happy with a mere removal of the name of the petitioner on screen, though not off screen.

Court showed discontent with the fact that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution has become a tool for the people to use it in their favour whenever they want it and to demand the denial of the same to others, with whom they do not see eye-to-eye, the Court said that Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution is being violated by some organisations who try to champion some cause which are closer to their hearts but are not accepted to the Government or the party in power. LYCA Production Pvt. Ltd v.  Government of Tamil NaduSCC OnLine Mad 8448, decided on 27.11.2014

 

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