Punjab and Haryana HC clears the way for Udta Punjab’s release | india-news | Hindustan Times
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Punjab and Haryana HC clears the way for Udta Punjab’s release

The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed a petition by an NGO seeking a stay on the release of ‘Udta Punjab’ on Thursday after the Supreme Court refused to entertain the plea.

india Updated: Jun 16, 2016 23:37 IST
Udta Punjab

The plea before the Supreme Court had sought a direction to restrain the screening of Udta Punjab on the ground that it depicted the state of Punjab in a “bad light”.

Udta Punjab will hit the theatres on Friday as scheduled after a high court refused on Thursday to stall the release of the controversial drug-themed film that has triggered a political slug-fest in the poll-bound state.

The Supreme Court also refused to entertain the plea of an NGO seeking stay release of the film that had earlier fallen foul of the censor board for allegedly portraying Punjab in a bad light and glorifying drug abuse.

The Punjab and Haryana high court gave the final clearance to the Shahid Kapoor-starrer, dismissing two petitions against the film.

“Drug menace can be in any state and the film does not glorify drugs,” said Sanjay Kaushal, the counsel of the film’s producer Phantom Films.

The Bombay high court had earlier allowed release of the film with just one scene deleted as against nearly 90 “cuts” sought by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC). The censor board’s suggestions had triggered a backlash against its chief Pahlaj Nihalini whom many accuse of toeing the BJP-led government’s agenda while certifying films.

Read: Udta Punjab leaked online, producers file complaint with cyber cell

The Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) accused Punjab’s ruling alliance of BJP and Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) of trying to influence the censor board’s decision to hide the state’s drug abuse problem that has allegedly crippled a generation.

Advocate Sujoy Kantawala, who watched the movie as the amicus curie of the Punjab and Haryana high court, also presented his report to the bench.

“I have clearly mentioned in my report which was read out in open court that there is absolutely nothing in the film which could lead any such sort of apprehensions which the petitioner entertained. The movie gives the social message that drugs are a menace. If you consume drugs you can lose your loved ones in future and it’s basically a thing you don’t want to do in life.”

Read: Make changes in ‘Udta Punjab’ promos as per Bombay high court order: Delhi HC

The high court’s ruling came in response to a plea by Jalandhar-based advocate Wattan Sharma who said the film had done “negative branding” of Punjab and its people and was therefore unfit for exhibition.

Another petition was filed by the Punjab State Commission for Women chairperson Paramjit Kaur Landran alleging that the movie portrayed women in an “obscene manner”.

Earlier in the day, the apex court asked the NGO to approach the high court over the film’s release.

“We are not interfering in the matter. We are not going into the merit. Liberty granted to the petitioner to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court which is seized of the matter,” a vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao said.

On Wednesday, the CBFC issued a fresh release certificate to the film citing that the movie is suitable for exhibition, but only for adults.

Advocate Sujoy Kantawala, who watched the movie as the amicus curie of the Punjab and Haryana high court, also presented his report to the bench.

“I have clearly mentioned in my report which was read out in open court that there is absolutely nothing in the film which could lead any such sort of apprehensions which the petitioner entertained. The movie gives the social message that drugs are a menace. If you consume drugs you can lose your loved ones in future and it’s basically a thing you don’t want to do in life.”

The high court’s ruling came in response to a plea by Jalandhar-based advocate Wattan Sharma who said the film had done “negative branding” of Punjab and its people and was therefore unfit for exhibition.

Another petition was filed by the Punjab State Commission for Women chairperson Paramjit Kaur Landran alleging that the movie portrayed women in an “obscene manner”.

The apex court asked the NGO to approach the high court over the film’s release.

“We are not interfering in the matter. We are not going into the merit. Liberty granted to the petitioner to approach the Punjab and Haryana high court which is seized of the matter,” a vacation bench of justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and L Nageswara Rao said.

(With agency inputs)

(With agency inputs)

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