FCAT clears 'Battle for Banaras' documentary for public screening with U/A certificate

The Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) has given clearance to a documentary film 'Battle for Banaras' which has chronicled the political battle for the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat in the 2014 general election.

The seat was contested by Narendra Modi, then the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, and Aam Aadmi Party's national convener Arvind Kejriwal.

The tribunal has directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to allow public screening of the documentary with U/A certificate about three years after the censor board denied giving clearance to the film in 2015.

The FCAT, which also upheld the CBFC's decision in October 2016, cleared the film reversing its decision on March 5 only after the Delhi High Court quashed the film certification board's April 2015 decision in January this year.

Hearing on a petition filed by the film's producer Kamal Swaroop, the High Court asked the appellate body to have a re-look at its decision that upheld the denial of certification by the censor board, observing that the findings of both the CBFC and FCAT in their respective orders that the film was full of hate and inflammatory speeches "was not sustainable."

"Viewing the film as a whole, one does not get an impression that the theme is full of hate speeches or inflammatory speeches. One does not get an impression that the film tries to divide people on caste or communal lines," the court observed.
The court also noted that neither the CBFC nor the FCAT could clearly spell out during the hearing of the matter "as to which part or dialogue of the film would violate the guidelines."

The FCAT accepted the High Court's decision.

"In view of the unequivocal finding by the court that the view of the CBFC and FCAT that the film was full of hate and inflammatory speeches was not sustainable, the matter is no longer res integra, as far as this aspect is concerned," it said.

The tribunal, however, directed the filmmaker to mute the word 'sala' used by one of the characters in a scene. It also ordered the filmmaker to insert an introduction about the film and a disclaimer separately stating that the documentary is a chronicle of "election campaigns of wide arena of candidates" who contested 2014 Lok Sabha polls for Varanasi seat.

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