A state government ban on a film it felt was unsafe for public screening because of the political climate of the day came in for some harsh words in the Bombay High Court on Wednesday.
A division bench of Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice Chandrachud was hearing a petition filed by actor-director-producer Kamal Khan seeking revocation of the ban on his film Deshdrohi.
The film dealt with the issue of migrant north Indians, who in real life had been at the receiving end of the ire of the Marathi-championing Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) led by Raj Thackeray. “It is your (government’s) inability to rein in the political leaders (who could create public disorder). And instead you curb the fundamental right of a citizen,” said Justice D.Y. Chandrachud.
The bench is expected to pronounce the order in the case on Friday.
After many instances of violence last year in protests organised by the MNS to press home its point that migrant north Indians were denying sons of the soil their rights, the state thought it better not to allow the release of Khan’s film. The film was banned on November 12 after the police expressed fears the film would create tensions between north Indians and Maharashtrians.
Justifying the ban, government pleader Niranjan Pandit said the government was contemplating an extension of the film ban by 60 days.