SC to Censor: Review classification of ‘Sadda Haq’

New Delhi, Apr 26: The Supreme Court today asked the Censor Board to consider whether the “U” certificate granted to Punjabi film “Sadda Haq” that allegedly glorifies extremism era can be changed to “A” following recommendation of a court appointed panel which did not favour suspending its screening.

After perusing the report of the four-member committee, which watched the movie today, a bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said that the Central Board of Film Certification which is the statutory authority will re-consider its decision on Monday after which the film can be released across the country.

The order was passed on a plea challenging the ban on screening of the film in Delhi, Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh.
The report by the committee comprising senior advocates Fali Nariman, Rajiv Dhavan, Indira Jaising (Additional Solicitor General) and Rebecca John said the Board when it looks into the final version of the film, may “seriously re-consider whether the film present classification as ‘U’ (under section 5A of the Cinematograph Act, 1952) is at all appropriate or whether the film should be only certified as ‘A’ film”.

The committee dismissed the apprehension of governments of Delhi, Punjab and the Union Territory of Chandigarh that the screening of the film is likely to cause breach of law and order.

“We are of the considered view that suspending the screening of the film on the ground that it is likely to cause a breach of peace calling for pre-emptive action by state authorities is totally inappropriate since it is the duty of the state to maintain law and order and prevent any apprehended breach of peace.

“This view is consistent with the law already laid down by this court, in particular, in the judgement in the Union of India Vs K M Shankarappa,” the note given by the panel to the court said.

The bench, also comprising justices A R Dave and Vikramajit Sen, had yesterday appointed the committee to watch the film.
On April 11, the court issued notices to Delhi and Punjab governments and the Union Territory of Chandigarh and sought their responses on the plea challenging the ban.

“There has been no ban on the screening of the film in other states. Why ban has been imposed only in Delhi, Punjab and Chandigarh”? the court had earlier asked.

Delhi government had said the ban was only in these three states as the screening of the film could affect a section of population belonging to a particular community, which is quite sizable, and there could have been consequential fallouts on peace and tranquillity. It had also said ground realities have been taken into account by the government before banning the film, the story line of which also covers incidents of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, Punjab militancy and alleged brutalities.

The screening of the film was stayed on April 4, a day before its release on April 5.

The court was hearing the plea of Vital Media, producer of the film, which assailed the ban imposed on the movie even after it was allowed screening by the Central Board of Film Certification. 



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