'Creative Freedom Can't be Guillotined', Says Supreme Court Clearing Padmaavat for Release

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Miraj Cinema, a single screen theatre in Balaghat, screened four shows of the movie on Thursday from 2pm to 8pm. Around 1,000 people watched the movie.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court has cleared Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Padmaavat and suspended the ban orders by four states.

An apex court bench, headed by Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra, also restrained all states from banning the Deepika Padukone and Shahid Kapoor starrer. “Creative freedom, freedom of speech and expression can’t be guillotined... artistic freedom has to be protected,” the SC said.

The CJI said that even 'Bandit Queen' passed the test of the court. "In Delhi High Court, I had also given a judgment on 'Dhobi Ghat'. I dismissed the petition to ban the movie by imposing a cost of Rs 25,000 on the petitioner," he said.

The court said that conditional freedom can't wait for a day. This remark came after Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta sought more time. "Give us a day at least. We will demonstrate the reasons. It is not a case where a man is going to be hanged in a day," he said.

On Wednesday, a bench of the SC comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud considered the submission of the counsel of Viacom 18 and other producers of the film that the plea be heard urgently as the movie was set for all-India release on January 25.

Governments of Haryana, Gujarat, Himachal Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Uttarakhand have declared that they will not allow screening of the movie, which also stars Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in lead roles.

The producers moved the top court through senior lawyer Harish Salve and advocate Mahesh Agarwal and submitted, in a petition, that the movie has undergone changes, including in its title, as suggested by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

Asserting that the film has been cleared by the CBFC, the plea said the states cannot impose a blanket ban on a film and its screening can be suspended in a particular area or areas on account of law and order problem, not across the states.

Earlier on two occasions, the apex court had thwarted attempts to stall release of the film, saying it cannot pre-judge a movie before the authorised body CBFC takes a decision.

The top court had on November 28 expressed unhappiness over remarks made by politicians over the movie and asked them to desist from reacting as they could prejudice censor board's decision.

"When a matter is pending for consideration before the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), how can persons in public authority comment on whether the CBFC should issue a certificate or not? It will prejudice the decision of CBFC," the bench had then said.

(with PTI inputs)