HindustanTimes Sat,20 Dec 2014

Centre, Tamil Nadu govt spar over film ban rights

Zia Haq & KV Lakshmana, Hindustan Times  New Delhi/Chennai, February 01, 2013
First Published: 00:43 IST(1/2/2013) | Last Updated: 02:20 IST(1/2/2013)

The controversy surrounding Kamal Haasan's multilingual film Vishwaroopam refused to die down, with the Centre and the Tamil Nadu government locking horns on Thursday over who held the rights to ban the film.


While the Centre invoked the Constitution, Tamil Nadu chief minister J Jayalalithaa said she had acted in the best interests of the state and even cited the regulation that empowered the state government to ban a film.

Vishwaroopam, a mega spy thriller was banned after certain Muslims groups objected to the film, saying it depicted Muslims as terrorists.

On Thursday, in an early-morning tweet the information and broadcasting minister Manish Tewari, suggested that the cinematograph act needed a re-look or else "each state would be its own censor".

By afternoon, Tewari's ministry swung into action, ordering a committee to undertake a full review of the act.

The cinematograph act is the overarching law that governs cinema in India.

"Film certification powers are within the exclusive domain of the central government in terms of the constitutional scheme. The integrity of this scheme must be upheld," Tewari said.

Jayalalithaa lashed out at the Centre for blaming her for controlling a potentially volatile situation.

"The ban was strictly on the basis of intelligence inputs of large-scale violence and protests announced by 24 Muslim organisations," she said.

She cited section 7 of the Tamil Nadu Cinema Regulation Act, 1955 which not only allowed the state to ban a film, but which had also been upheld by the Supreme Court, and said Tewari should "learn the laws before speaking".

However, Tewari said Jaya did not invoke this act, instead took recourse to section 144 which prevents people from assembling in public places.

The outcome of this Centre-state battle could even lead to a new overarching body to handle all appeals regarding movies.

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