Delhi High Court refuses to entertain PIL against Kamal Haasan’s remark

The Delhi High Court on Wednesday declined to entertain a PIL filed by a BJP leader seeking directions to the Election Commission to “restrict” misuse of religion for poll gains.

The high court also asked the EC to decide BJP leader Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay’s representation against the remarks of actor-cum-politician Kamal Haasan that “free India’s first extremist was a Hindu”, referring to Nathuram Godse who killed Mahatma Gandhi.

The petition, filed by Upadhyay, has also sought debarring of candidates and deregistration of parties that “misuse” religion for electoral gains.

Kamal Haasan, Vidya Balan, J.S. Verma, Yuvraj among 127 Padma awardees

Noted scientist RA Mashelkar, yoga expert BKS Iyenger, actors Kamal Haasan and Vidya Balan, tennis player Leander Paes, cricketer Yuvraj Singh, and former chief justice of India, the late JS Verma were Saturday conferred the Padma awards on the eve of the 65th Republic Day.

While Mashelkar and Iyengar were the two named for Padma Vibhushan, 24 eminent people including Verma, Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Haasan, writers Anita Desai and Ruskin Bond, badminton player P Gopichand and Paes got the Padma Bhushan.

The 101 conferred the Padma Shri include Vidya Balan and Paresh Rawal, cricketers Yuvraj and Anjum Chopra, Odisha sand artist Sudarsan Pattnaik, and fashion designer Wendell Rodricks.

Padma Awards – the country’s highest civilian awards, are conferred to eminent people for their contribution in the field of social work, public affairs, science and engineering, trade and industry, medicine, literature and education, sports, civil service.

The awards will be presented by President Pranab Mukherjee at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhavan around March/April.

Of the total 127 Padma Awardees, 27 are women and ten are foreigners, NRIs and PIOs.

Verma, who headed a government committee set up in the wake of the Dec 16, 2012 Delhi gang rape to frame a tough law for crime against women, has been awarded Padma Bhushan posthumously in the public affairs category. Bhandari is a former apex court judge who now represents India in the International Court of Justice.

Others who have been conferred Padma Bhushan include artist Gulam Mohammed Sheikh, classical singer Begum Parveen Sultana and ghatam performer TH Vinayakram.

Padmanabham Balram, Madappa Mahadevappa, Thirumalachari Ramasami, Vinod Prakash Sharma, Radhakrishnan Koppillil, and (late) Anumolu Ramakrishna have been conferred Padma Bhushan for science and engineering.

Padma Bhushan for literature and education has been conferred on Mrityunjay Athreya, Anita Desai, Dhirubhai Thakar, Vairamuthu Ramasamy Thevar and Ruskin Bond, Anisuzzaman (Bangladesh), Lloyd I. Rudolph and Susanne H. Rudolph (both US) jointly.

While Neelam Kler got Padma Bhushan for medicine, Vijayendra Nath Kaul got the award in the civil service category.

Kler is a senior consultant in the neonatology department in Sir Ganga Ram Hospital here, as well as president of the National Neonatology Forum.

The Padma Shri awardees also include Paresh Rawal, cricketers Anjum Chopra and Yuvraj Singh, kabaddi player Sunil Dabas for Kabbadi, squash player Dipika Rebecca Pallikal, H Boniface Prabhu (wheelchair tennis), mountaineers Love Raj Singh Dharmshaktu and Mamta Sodha and former bureaucrat Praveen Talha.

(Source: IANS)

Madras High Court lifts ban on Vishwaroopam

The Madras High Court Tuesday ruled in favour of Kamal Haasan’s banned controversial film “Vishwaroopam” and lifted the ban by the state government.

“The film can be released in theatres tomorrow and the Section 144 order issued by the district collector will be kept in abeyance,” said Justice K. Venkatraman in an interim order. The film will be released without any cuts or edits.

“I have watched the film and it has no scenes that hurt the sentiments of Muslim community,” Justice Venkataraman had said earlier in the day.

The verdict on the ban was issued after actor-filmmaker Kamal Haasan was requested to settle the matter amicably with the government of Tamil Nadu on January 28. This was after a judge saw the movie in a private screening on January 26.

The Rs.95 crore espionage thriller was originally scheduled to release in Tamil and Telugu on January 25. However, a day before the screenings, the Tamil Nadu government imposed a two-week ban on the film after some Muslim groups complained that some scenes in it portrayed the community in bad light.

Haasan, 58, described the ban as “cultural terrorism” and added, “Any neutral and patriotic Muslim will surely feel pride on seeing my film. It was designed for that purpose.”

“Vishwaroopam” was banned from being screened in Kerala, parts of Hyderabad, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh Jan 25, soon after the first show.

The film resumed playing in as many as 40 theatres amidst police security in Karnataka on Tuesday morning. It was released with the tagline included in the credits, “All Muslims are not terrorists and the characters depicted in this film are imaginary”.

Distributors and theatre owners who had to take off the film fear losses of up to Rs.30 crore and above.

Chandra Haasan, Kamal Haasan’s brother and one of the producers of the film, said, “We are anticipating a loss of Rs.30 to 80 crore due to the initial delay in the release of the film. Since it has become a matter of law and order, we worry if theatres will screen the movie or not.”

The film was also banned in Malaysia on January 26, where it was released on January 24, after the Malaysian ministry intervened and requested the distributor to stop the screening the film.

However, according to trade pundits, the film is doing exceptionally well in the overseas region.

“Tamil film ‘Vishwaroopam’ is superb in the US and very good in Britain. In the opening weekend, the film collected Rs.81.23 lakh in Britain and Rs.3.43 crore in the US”, tweeted trade analyst Taran Adarsh.

Following the ban in Tamil Nadu, actors such as superstar Rajinikanth, Ajith Kumar, Parthepan and filmmaker Bharathiraja and producer Mukta Srinivasan opposed the ban and urged members from Muslim organisations to allow peaceful release of the film.

Produced and directed by Kamal, “Vishwaroopam” features him in the title role. Other members of the cast include Pooja Kumar, Andrea Jeremiah, Rahul Bose, Shekhar Kapur and Jaideep Ahlawat.

Its Hindi version “Vishwaroop” is slated to release on February 1.