Supreme Court Quashes Ban on Film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’
The Supreme Court in a landmark decision titled
Harinder Singh Sikka v Union of India & Ors in Writ Petition(s) (Civil) No.(s) 313/2018 dated 10 April, 2018 has batted strongly in defence of the right to free speech and expression, which is priceless and this is true especially of artists and actors. Thus, the Apex Court by its landmark order cleared the way for unhindered distribution and screening of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ that faced a fresh challenge from the Shiromani Gurudwara
Parbandhak Committee (SGPC). We thus see that finally the Apex Court has put an end to all the speculations to the release of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ which has been in limbo and waiting approval since April 2015.
All decks have now been cleared for the release of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, which is based on the life and work of Guru Nanak. The film, which had been earlier approved and later banned by the SGPC and the Akal Takht was cleared for release by the Apex Court on April 10. The Supreme Court Bench comprising of Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and Justices DY Chandrachud and AM Khanwilkar while frowning at the SGPC which had earlier “cleared” the film and slamming the vigilante groups attempting to assume the role of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in deciding whether movies could be screened in public minced absolutely no words in stating explicitly that the CBFC’s nod was “final” and that “the freedom of expression of an artiste can’t be curtailed by a group of private people”.
It may be recalled that the film according to reports had been cleared initially by both the SGPC and the Akal Takht who gave their nod to it. Appearing for the film’s producer Lt Cdr HS Sikka (retd) senior advocate Rupinder Singh Suri had said that the filmmakers had taken the SGPC into confidence, screened it before a special committee and carried out suggested modifications. After changes in the film, which in 2015 had won three awards at the 63rd National Film Awards, including the Nargis Dutt award for best feature film on national integration, the SGPC had asked all gurudwaras to help promote the movie.
Since modifications were carried out, the producer moved the CBFC again for fresh clearance and got a ‘U’ certificate on March 28. On this very day, the SGPC issued a press release saying the film had the Sikh religious body’s clearance. But two days later, the
SGPC changed its stance which stoked sentiments against the film.
Needless to say, the SGPC and other radical groups started threatening to use violent methods to stall the film’s release. The CJI-led Bench of Apex
Court expressed its strong disapproval at the attempts by private individuals and groups to stop release of film. It said clearly and categorically that, “We do not see how anybody, group, association or individual can create any kind of disturbance in exhibition of the film.” Very rightly said!
It may be also recalled here that the Apex Court had taken a similar view just recently when some radical Rajput groups like Karni Sena had objected to the release of film ‘Padmavat’. The Apex Court had then clearly stated that, “Once the CBFC certified a film for release; its screening should not be prevented.” There can be no denying or disputing it.
It is a matter of utmost concerns that none other than the CJI Dipak Misra himself had expressed his concern that the tendency to not respect the law of the land was becoming frequent. He said quite convincingly and clearly that, “If such activities are encouraged, the same has the potentiality to bring in anarchy and cripple the right of freedom of speech and expression.” Who can deny or dispute this indisputable truth?
ʻNanak Shah Fakirʼ film.