Madras HC dismisses PIL against 'Mersal'

Madras HC dismisses PIL against 'Mersal'

Chennai, PTI: The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition seeking to revoke the censor certificate issued to Vijay-starrer 'Mersal', holding that people's right to freedom of expression applies to films too.

The film ran into a controversy over certain dialogues relating to GST.

The petitioner had contended that the movie contained scenes and dialogues which were against the interests of the country's sovereignty and integrity and the security of the state.

"This is a democracy and people have their right to freedom of expression, and this applies to films as well," a division bench comprising Justices M M Sundresh and M Sundar observed while dismissing the plea by advocate A Ashvathaman.

"Even today the media has reported that the Leader of the Opposition in the state has criticised demonetisation, can the court pass a gag order against him from making such statements?" the bench asked.

The petition contended that there was false information about GST and Digital India Scheme, which would encourage people to indulge in tax evasion.

Wondering how the Censor Board had issued certification for the movie, the petitioner said, "The film was full of wrong propaganda about India and fake dialogues and scenes which obviously lead to a misconception about the new taxation system (Goods and Service Tax)."

Coming down on the petitioner, the bench said, "If you were really concerned about public and the society you should have started campaigns against various social evils like untouchability and safety of women. But you choose to target a particular movie."

Noting that the PIL had, in fact, helped the film get more publicity, the court dismissed the plea as devoid of merit.

The movie was released on October 18, Diwali day, and kicked up a row with the BJP's Tamil Nadu unit which took an exception to references on GST and 'Digital India' initiative.

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