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Prem Mardi v. Union of India and Ors. - (High Court of Delhi) (31 Mar 2017)

Film is judged in its entirety and is examined in light of period depicted in films and contemporary standards of country


Media and Communication

Appellant herein is unsuccessful Petitioner. Said writ petition was filed with a prayer to quash certificate granted to movie "MSG 2-The Messenger" and further to direct Union of India, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to issue appropriate orders to "You Tube" to take down trailer of said film from website. Petitioner also sought a direction to Union of India, Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to issue appropriate orders to cable and television networks prohibiting them from broadcasting the film "MSG 2-The Messenger" and to restrain Respondent No. 5/producer of said film from circulating, distributing, exhibiting the said film or its trailer in any manner whatsoever. Single Judge observed that, from trailer the film in question was found to be depicting a fantasy to viewers and that same has to be understood in said light only. Further, reference in film to Adivasi is not found to be relatable in any manner to Scheduled Tribes so as to attract provisions of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, which makes any act insulting or intimidating with an intention to humiliate a particular Scheduled Cast or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view, an offence punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months. Assailing said order of Single Judge, it is vehemently contended by Appellant that, conclusion of Single that, word "adivasi" used in film is not relatable in any manner to Scheduled Tribes is erroneous.

Supreme Court in S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram observed that, movie is legitimate and most important medium in which issues of general concern can be treated. Producer may project his own message which others may not approve of. But he has a right to "think out" and put counter appeals to reason. It is a part of a democratic give-and-take to which no one could complain. State cannot prevent open discussion and open expression, however hateful to its policies.

Guidelines made under Cinematograph Act, 1952 require Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to ensure that, film is judged in its entirety from point of view of its overall impact and is examined in light of period depicted in films and contemporary standards of country.

Movie at the outset contains a disclaimer that "none of character therein is based on any living or dead person and resemblance if any is unintentional". It does not make out a case to hold that, certificate issued by CBFC is in violation of guidelines. As rightly held by Single Judge, film cannot be said to have propensity of inculcating hatred, ill-will and violence towards a person or group of persons. Film to average viewers' understanding does not depict life as such, but on other hand, it is a pure work of fiction.

Moreover, movie was released on 18th September, 2015 and it is not a case of Appellant that, any incidence of violence or atrocity has been reported from any corner. Law is well settled that, test is not of a sensitive person, but it has to be judged from the perception of a reasonable prudent man. No reasonable prudent man will perceive the movie in the way in which Appellant/Petitioner sought to project. High Court found no justifiable reason to interfere with order under appeal and accordingly dismissed the Appeal.

Relevant : S. Rangarajan v. P. Jagjivan Ram; MANU/SC/0475/1989 : (1989) 2 SCC 574


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