SANAL KUMAR SASIDHARAN Vs. UNION OF INDIA, REPRESENTED BY SECRETARY
HIGH COURT OF KERALA
Sanal Kumar Sasidharan
Union Of India, Represented By Secretary
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K. Vinod Chandran, J. -
(1.) A film which won critical acclaim and many awards outside the country, is not permitted to be screened in the Indian Panorama of the 48th International Film Festival of India [IFFI] at Goa. Earlier, when the film was attempted to be screened in a Mumbai Film Festival, it was not certified and the organizers were unable to get an exemption, which fact was communicated to the petitioner, by Exhibit P8. The objection of the Ministry, which has to grant the exemption; when there is no certification from the Central Board of Film Certification [CBFC] as is revealed from Exhibit P8, was the title of the movie. According to the Ministry it hurts the religious sentiments of Hindus for reason of the title being derogatory of a Hindu Goddess.
(2.) The petitioner proffered the film for screening at the Film Festival scheduled at Goa, organized by the Director of Film Festival, IFFI in the Indian Panorama-2017. The Jury having granted entry to the petitioner's movie, it was a shock to see a press release of the Ministry, dropping two films from the festival, one of which was the petitioner's film. The petitioner sent an e-mail to the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting [referred to as 'Ministry'], informing the Ministry that the film has obtained 'U/A' certificate of CBFC, without any visual cuts. The petitioner points out that, on submission for certification, the petitioner was issued with Ext.P18, which directed certain modifications by way of excision of certain words from the sound track and change of title. The film is now titled 'S.Durga' with the excision carried out and is ready for screening as per the certification. The Ministry's decision has not been communicated and the statement filed by the respondent indicates that there is no order issued other than the press release. The petitioners film hence has to be directed to be screened in the 48th IFFI as per the entry granted by the jury. This is the gist of the writ petition.
(3.) The learned Central Government Counsel first raises the objection of lack of jurisdiction. It is submitted that there is no pleading in the writ petition, but of the film having used Malayalam language, to confer jurisdiction on this Court. The Film Festival is conducted at Goa and the decision of the Ministry has been taken at New Delhi. The movie was refused entry for reason of violation of the regulations as brought out in Exhibit P13 applicable to the IFFI. The fact that the characters in the movie speak in Malayalam or it has been shot in Kerala does not confer jurisdiction on this Court to interfere with the decision taken at New Delhi to refuse screening at the festival held in Goa. The learned CGC also places reliance on the decisions reported in Anand Anoop v. Union of India & Others,2014 KHC 377, Registrar, Indian Maritime University, Chennai v. Dr.K G Viswanathan & Another,2014 4 KHC 451, Nawal Krisha Sharam v. Union of India & Others,2014 4 KHC 4507, Madhavan Nair G. v. Union of India & Others,2016 KHC 234 and Bharath Kumar Ghosh v. Union of India,2017 KHC 2079; to urge this Court to reject the writ petition on the issue of maintainability.;
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