SC says banning Dam 999 is a violation of rights

 The Supreme Court on Friday asked the Tamil Nadu government to clarify if banning the film ‘Dam 999’ relating to Mullaperiyar dam row would not violate the fundamental right to free speech and expression.

A bench of Justices A K Ganguly and J S Khehar asked Tamil Nadu's Additional Advocate General Gurukrishna Kumar to explain as to why the court should stop screening of the film produced and directed by Sohan Roy. “Show us how can you stop screening of the film once it has been cleared by the censor board. Reasons like breach of trust and law and order can't be justified. It is not a ground.”

“There is Article 19(1)(a) (freedom of expression). It is a Constitutional right. We can understand if there is some question of obscenity or something affecting the cultural sentiments or religious feelings.

“Otherwise, why should we stop screening of the film,” the bench said. The counsel’s reply that the state was within its right to impose the ban to avoid law and order problem failed to impress the bench.

Additional Solicitor General Mohan Jain, appearing for the Centre, referred to the decision of the apex court on film ‘Aara­k­shan’ to submit that once the Central Board for Film Certification  cleared a film, the states had no authority to ban it. The government’s counsel cou­n­tered by saying it concerned relationship between two states.

Following the submissions, the apex court asked the state to file an affidavit before January 24 on the issue and posted the matter for further hearing to February 7.

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