Amid controversies surrounding the screening of Malayalam film S Durgat at IFFI, The Kerala High Court on Tuesday directed the he Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to allow the screening of the film at the ongoing festival in Goa.
Allowing a petition by the film's director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan, Justice K Vinod Chandran directed the respondents, including the I&B Secretary and Directorate of Film Festivals, to screen the certified version of the movie at the 48th edition of International Film Festival of India (IFFI).
Sasidharan had moved the court after the film was dropped from the Panorama section of the festival, contending that the decision was unconstitutional.
Overruling the recommendation of the 13-member jury, the I&B ministry pulled out "S Durga" and Marathi movie "Nude" from the festival, which will continue till November 28.
The petitioner had submitted that the ministry had "arbitrarily vetoed" the jury's decision "without any authority of law" and excluded the film without notice to him and also without assigning any reason.
The judge in his order referred to the submission of the central government's counsel that the film was dropped as at the time of its selection by the jury on October 3, the certification by the censor board had not been obtained.
The Central Board of Film Certification gave "U/A" certificate for the film on October 10 after the title was changed as "S Durga" and other deletions.
Referring to the ministry's submissions that the screening of the uncertified version was a cognisable offence under Section 7 of the Cinematograph Act,1952, the court held there was no question of screening the uncertified version. Only the certified version can be screened.
The court said"Definitely, that (screening uncertified version) is not permissable... Normally there would have arisen a need for an exemption from the Ministry, but for the subsequent certification of the film by the CBFC."
The movie has been selected by the jury, but was denied presentation only because it had viewed a version which was not certified, the court said.
It was not the claim of the petitioner that he wanted to present an uncertified version.
The subsequent CBFC "certification is the essential part of the cause of action of the petitioner which enables him to claim a screening of the film at the festival", the court ruled allowing the petition.
The film's director had stated that some fringe elements protested against the film, based on their misunderstanding that the original title "Sexy Durga" referred to Goddess Durga whereas the work has nothing against the goddess, or any other religious figure.
The film, a road movie that follows the horrifying experience of two hitchhikers, a man and a woman, at the hands of two men in the dead of the night, won the Hivos Tiger Award in the International Film Festival Rotterdam 2017.
(With PTI Inputs)