An individual's right was subservient to the collective rights of a State, the Supreme Court said, dismissing the plea of film director Sohan Roy who had challenged Tamil Nadu
government's order banning the screening of his move DAM 999.
A bench of Justice P Sathsivam, Justice JS Khehar and Justice Vikramjit Sen refused to intervene with the December 19, 2012, order of the state's chief secretary, extending the ban on the film's screening by another three months. The Tamil Nadu government had restrained the movie's release on the ground that its story revolved around the Mullaperiya dam, a bone of contention between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.
Roy's counsel contended that the order was a violation of his fundamental right to free speech and expression. He also assailed the order claiming it was based on a narrow political objective, that should not come in the way of guaranteed right of the petitioner. The bench, however, disagreed with the lawyer and observed: "We are not pointing it out to Kerala or Tamil Nadu. But it's for all the state. Court cannot close its eyes to such problems and say that a legal issue is involved in the matter."
On repeated argument that the order was illegal as the Central Board of Film Certification had already granted permission to Roy, the bench noted: "When the highest office of a State and an elected government highlights an apprehension that this (movie) may lead to a problem, then the court should not interfere." The court added the Mullaperiyar dam issue was pending before the SC and that the two states were looking forward to a settlement. "Why should we aggravate it (strained relations between Kerala and Tamil Nadu)?" it said.