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Udta Punjab row: Govt says can’t intervene in censor board issue

The Centre has washed its hands off the raging controversy over filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s ongoing tussle with the censor board over the certification of his film ‘Udta Punjab’.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2016 18:30 IST
HT Correspondent
Producer of Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab,’ or ‘Flying Punjab’, Anurag Kashyap gestures during a press conference, in Mumbai.
Producer of Bollywood film ‘Udta Punjab,’ or ‘Flying Punjab’, Anurag Kashyap gestures during a press conference, in Mumbai.(AP)

The Centre has washed its hands of the raging controversy over filmmaker Anurag Kashyap’s ongoing tussle with the censor board over the certification of his film ‘Udta Punjab’.

It has pointed out that it cannot intervene in the censor board’s decision and is barred from doing so by a court order.

Even as Kashyap has taken his fight with the censor board to the government’s doorstep--including tweeting to Prime Minister Narendra Modi--sources said the information and broadcasting ministry finds its hands tied by a Supreme Court decision.

In 2000, the Supreme Court dismissed an appeal filed by the central government to retain with it the powers under section 6(1) of the Cinematographic Act, 1981, which allowed it to make orders it deemed fit, even after establishing an Appellate Tribunal for film clearances.

The apex court had noted that allowing the government to review the decision of the censor board or the Appellate Tribunal regarding the clearance of a film would amount to interference with the exercise of judicial functions of a quasi-judicial body.

Read | Kashyap like a child being denied a toy: Nihalani on Udta Punjab | HT Exclusive

The court did not agree with the Centre’s reasoning that it should be allowed to retain the powers, despite setting up the Tribunal as there would be situations where it would be required to review the decision of the censor board or Tribunal.

“As per the procedure laid down, after the Tribunal has cleared the film, the government cannot intervene. It cannot stop a film on the grounds that there may be a law and order situation as the court has spelt out that maintaining law and order is the responsibility of the state and cannot be used as an excuse,” a source said.

While Kashyap is now seeking legal redress, the controversy has acquired a political hue with the AAP and the Congress hurling allegations against the ruling SAD in Punjab for pressing the censor board to order cuts and drop the word ‘Punjab’ from the title.

Read | Pahlaj Nihalani censored Udta Punjab on BJP’s order: Kejriwal

Read | Censoring won’t fix drug problem: Rahul Gandhi gives Udta Punjab wings

Kashyap’s comments comparing India to North Korea have not gone down well with the government, but his colleagues in the film industry have joined his battle against the censor board. “How is that the film’s trailer got a certificate from the censor without suggesting any cuts?” filmmaker and censor board members Ashok Pandit told HT, questioning the belated objection to the use of Punjab in the title.