SC Stays Ban on Padmavat Movie

Certain states of India have issued notifications that the movie Padmavat is not to be released in their respective states. On January 18, 2018, the Supreme Court stayed these notifications and orders.

The movie has been certified by the CBFC.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra and including Justices A. M.Khanwilkar and D. Y.Chandrachud also restrained other states from issuing such notifications or orders banning the exhibition of the film.

The Supreme Court ordered all states to see to it that public law and order is maintained during the screening of the film across the country.The three-judge Bench led by the Chief Justice, quoting its 2011 Prakash Jha judgment, observed in a detailed order that it is “the duty and obligation of the State to maintain law and order”.

The Chief Justice of India observed, “The whole problem when exhibition of a film is stopped like this, my constitutional conscience shocks me.”

The bench noted that creative content including theatre and cinema are inseparable aspects of Right to Freedom and Expression guaranteed under the Constitution.

It was pointed out by the court that the movie may not do well in the box office because people decide not to see it, but the State could not ban its exhibition on grounds of risk to public order.

It was also pointed out that after the CBFC had issued a certificate to a film under the Cinematograph Act of 1952, the State has no power to prohibit the exhibition of the film.The court held that “once the Parliament has conferred the responsibility and power on a statutory board and the board has certified the film, non-exhibition of the film by states is contrary to statutory provisions.”

The apex court further ordered that the artists and other people involved in the movies be protected from threats.

The court was hearing a petition by the makers of the movie, Padmavat, against the moves made by the BJP-ruled states of Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh against the movie.While Gujarat and Rajasthan had issued notifications on January 5 and 17, respectively, prohibiting the screening, Haryana had in-principle decided to ban the exhibition of the movie, and the Madhya Pradesh government had made statements of intention to ban the screening of the movie.

The Supreme Court dismissed the argument by Gujarat and Rajasthan, represented by Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, that CBFC could not be aware of the security risks and public order situation. It was the State’s right to act to prevent “breach of peace”.

Harish Salve, who was representing the petitioners, argued that the film Padmavat had been certified by the CBFC after certain changes were made. “States,” he said, “cannot throw the CBFC certificate in the dustbin. This is lawlessness. States cannot ban screening to appease their political constituency. This will lead to constitutional breakdown.” He further submitted that “Certifying a film is a statutory act under a central law. States cannot defy the Supreme Court and encroach into Union territory merely because it is politically convenient.”

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi said on behalf of the movie makers that “States cannot become super censors”.

The matter will be taken up for further hearing on March 26.

In 2011, the Supreme Court ‘quashed and set aside’ the two-month ban imposed by the Uttar Pradesh government on the screening of filmmaker Prakash Jha’sAarakshan. In that judgment, the court had said that once the CBFC has cleared the film for public viewing, screening of the same cannot be prohibited in the manner sought to be done by the State. It is the responsibility of the state governments to maintain law and order.


Spectrum Handbook for General Studies Paper-1 Edition 2018


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