New Delhi, Aug 16 : The Supreme Court today sought response from the Centre and Uttar Pradesh government on filmmaker Prakash Jha's petition challenging the state government's decision to ban screening of ‘Aarakshan'. A bench of justices Mukundkam Sharma and A R Dave issued notice to the Centre and the state government asking them to file their response by Friday.
The bench posted the matter for further hearing on August 19.
The court passed the orders on Jha's petition, who approached it after screening of his film was banned by various state governments.
Jha's film ‘Aarakshan' was banned by three states, UP, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh. The UP government had on August 10 banned the film for two months citing law and order problem. However, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh had later lifted the ban. In his petition, Jha had asked whether the state governments can override the permission granted by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to exhibit a movie. The petition contended the decision by the governments of UP, Punjab and Andhra Pradesh was due to political reasons and it violates the fundamental right to speech and expression.
The political thriller starring Amitabh Bachchan, SaifAli Khan, Manoj Vajpai, Prateek Babbar and Deepika Padukone was released on August 12 in other parts of the country. Jha has sought a stay on the orders passed by the UP government banning the release of the film on the grounds of likelihood of hurting the feelings of weaker sections that could lead to law and order problems.
In the petition, Jha said the examining committee of Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), which cleared the film for exhibition, comprised members drawn from the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribes and other backward castes and the ban by the three states is “biased and arbitrary”. Seeking a stay on ban orders, Jha had cited various apex court judgements holding that “open criticism of the government policies and operations is not a ground for imposing restriction on expression views even in the form of films.”
He said he has spent Rs 65 crores towards production, publicity and marketing of the film and third party rights for distribution and exploitation of the film have also been created. PTI