SC Dismisses Plea Against 'Padmavati', Rebukes CMs for Speaking Against Film

Despite the apex court's statement, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar on Tuesday said the film will not be released in his state until the director issues a clarification.

New Delhi: The Supreme Court today took strong exception to statements made by persons holding high offices – including several chief ministers – against the film Padmavati, saying the remarks were tantamount to pre-judging the movie which is yet to be certified by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).

A bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra dismissed a fresh petition that had sought an order to restrain the producers of the movie from releasing it abroad.

“When matter is pending for CBFC’s consideration, how can persons holding public offices comment on whether CBFC should issue certificate or not? It’ll prejudice decision making of CBFC…All concerned people, holding responsible posts must be guided by rule of law and shouldn’t venture into passing comments on films which haven’t been cleared by CBFC. It’ll prejudice minds of board members while taking a decision,” Indian Express quoted the court as saying.

Lawyer M.L. Sharma had also sought a direction to the CBI to register a case against director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and others for various offences including defamation and violation of the Cinematography Act.

The bench, which also comprised Justices A.M. Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud, termed as “misconceived” the prayers sought by Sharma in his fresh petition and said that the court cannot pre-judge a movie which is yet to be certified by the CBFC.

Also read: Nahargarh Fort Hanging Seen By Some as Attempt to Stoke Communal Strains Over ‘Padmavati’

The irked bench, however, did not impose cost on Sharma keeping in view the fact that he has been a practising lawyer of the apex court.

At least five chief ministers from BJP-ruled states have spoken out against the yet-to-be-released movie, claiming that it could “hurt sentiments” of the Rajput community and create a law and order problem. However, they have not condemned the violent threats made by groups like the Shri Rajput Karni Sena against Bhansali and actor Deepika Padukone.

Gujarat has issued a notification banning the release of the film. Uttar Pradesh chief minister Adityanath accused Bhansali of playing with public sentiments as a habit. Madhya Pradesh chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has said he won’t allow the film to be released in the state. Rajasthan chief minister has also said that the film can only be released if “objectionable” scenes are deleted, Indian Express reported.

Even after the Supreme Court’s statements, Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar joined those saying the film will not be released until the director “clarifies” his stance. “As people from several quarters have been raising questions on Padmavati, the director of the film should clarify his stand. Till then, the film will not be shown in Bihar,” Indian Express quoted him as saying.

The film is based on legendary Rajput queen Padmavati. Amid rumours that there was a romantic dream sequence between Padmavati and Alauddin Khilji’s characters, various Rajput and other groups have been protesting across the country, including in Rajasthan, against the film, alleging it “distorts” history and “hurts sentiments”.

Viacom18, the producers of Padmavati, deferred the film’s release in light of increasing protests and threats.

(With PTI inputs)

Note: This copy was updated to include Nitish Kumar’s statement.

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