Amol Palekar moves HC against pre-censorship of play scripts
Noted actor and filmmaker Amol Palekar has approached the Bombay high court challenging the rules framed under provisions of the Bombay Police Act, 1951, which make pre-censorship of play scripts mandatory by the Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board.
The veteran actor has in his petition said the rules framed under provisions of the Act were arbitrary and violative of the fundamental right of citizens to freedom of expression, guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
Section 33(1)(wa) of the Act empowers the commissioner or superintendent of police to frame rules for Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Amusement (other than cinemas) and Performance for Public Amusement including Melas and Tamashas. Palekar has challenged validity of the rules made in 1960 by exercising the power under the provision.
Under the rules, scrutiny of performance and scripts of plays has been made mandatory “for regulation in the interest of public order, decency or morality” and then a certificate has to be issued.
“The pre-censorship leads to curtailment of artistic freedom because of which many historic plays have not been performed in their original form,” said Palekar. His petition states that such pre-censorship for plays exist only in Maharashtra and Gujarat. In Tamil Nadu, a similar rule has been struck down by the high court holding it unconstitutional.
A bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice MS Sonak has posted his petition for hearing next week.