Freedom of speech, expression is sacrosanct: SC

Freedom of speech, expression is sacrosanct: SC

The court rejected a plea to restrain the release of a documentary on Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, titled An Insignificant Man.

"An artist can exercise his freedom of expression in a manner which is not prohibited by law...A thought-provoking film should never mean that it should be puritanical," a three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

"Freedom of speech and expression is sacrosanct and the said right should ordinarily be not interfered with," the bench added while emphasising that all creative people have the right to enjoy their work in the production of films and dramas.

The observation is significant as it comes in the wake of nationwide protests over Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Padmavati.

The court also wondered whether filmmakers must take permission from family members before making a movie.

It also said every day so many events take place in the apex court and the media presented its reports as per their understanding. "Should we gag them?" the bench observed.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Nachiketa Walhekar, who contended that the documentary, to be released on November 17, should be stopped as it contained a video clip of an incident involving the petitioner.

Walhekar, who threw ink on Aam Aadmi Party leaders in 2013, contended that the film could prejudice the pending trial in a Delhi court.

Either the film should show a disclaimer or be released with a public apology as the petitioner was being made fun of, the counsel submitted.

The court asked advocate Pushkar Sharma, representing Walhekar, if the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has certified the documentary.

On a positive response from him, the bench, also comprising Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked, "Who are we to remove a part or clip from the film?"

"When CBFC has granted certification, the court should be extremely slow in passing any injunction," the bench said and dismissed the petition.

The court, however, clarified that the documentary would not be used an evidence before the trial court.

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