The Delhi high court on Tuesday asked the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to hear the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DSGMC), which had claimed that the upcoming film ‘Santa Banta Pvt Ltd’ made fun of Sikhs.
Justice JR Midha said this after the bench was informed by the government that the DSGMC’s member could have a meeting on Wednesday at the CBFC chairman’s office in Mumbai regarding the film scheduled to be released on April 22.
The issue was also brought up on Tuesday before the Supreme Court, which asked the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) counsel that he could file a petition and challenge whichever aspect they felt aggrieved of in the movie.
The high court was hearing a plea filed by the DSGMC and two others against CBFC chairman Pahlaj Nihalani and its CEO Anurag Shrivastava in which it was alleged that they had not complied with the March 29 directions given by the court.
On March 29, a bench headed by chief justice G Rohini had directed CBFC to reconsider the ‘U/A’ certification issued to the film and asked it to give an opportunity to parties to be heard on the issue before passing an appropriate order.
The division bench had also asked CBFC to treat as a representation the petition filed by the DSGMC, which had claimed that the movie could lead to “disturbance”.
In the plea which came up for hearing on Tuesday, the DSGMC alleged that CBFC had “clandestinely” passed an order on April 7 without hearing them on the issue about certification of the movie despite the court’s direction.
Countering the DSGMC claims, government’s standing counsel Anil Soni told the court that proper messages were sent to them but they did not appear before the CBFC for a discussion.
“They (petitioners) are the ones who did not take the opportunity granted by the court. We have passed the order in their absence keeping in view their representation,” he said.
The counsel appearing for the petitioners said they had not received any such communication from CBFC. Soni then said the DSGMC members could meet CBFC officers in Mumbai on Wednesday.
During the hearing, the court said an opportunity should be granted to the DSGMC to discuss the issue with CBFC. It also said a fresh order be passed by CBFC on or before April 21 after hearing the petitioners.
During the hearing on the petition earlier before a division bench, the censor board had stood by its decision to certify it on the grounds that there was nothing objectionable.
In its petition filed before the division bench, the DSGMC had sought stay on the film’s release contending that it “misrepresented” the community and projected “the personality of the community in defamatory and denigrating manner”, which could cause “disturbance”.