Supreme Court paves way for release of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ [READ ORDER]

In a petition filed by Harinder Sikka, producer of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’, to secure the release of the film, the Supreme Court today issued notice to all the states, directing them to ensure that law and order is maintained. The Court’s decision came hours after Akal Takht took a decision banning the release of the film. [Read order here]

The Bench comprising of CJI Dipak Misra, Justic AM Khanwilkar  and Justice Chandrachud allowed producer Harinder Sikka’s plea for a direction to all the state governments and the Centre to ensure that law and order is maintained when the film is released.

The Court today noted the submissions of the Petitioner’s counsel Mr. R.S Suri, observing that once the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) grants a certificate for exhibition of the movie, there cannot be any obstruction by private individuals or groups.

Condemning Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGCPC) for withdrawing its decision to support the film for release in view of law and order situation, the Court observed that a committee or private individual cannot assume the position that they are an authority to grant certificate and that unless they clear, the film cannot be exhibited.

The order reads ” It   is   well   settled   that   the   CBFC   sometimes   grants certificates subject to certain excisions and modifications. Once the same are carried out, there cannot be any kind of obstruction   for   exhibition   of   a   film.     That   having   been done,   we   do   not   see   how   any   body,   group,   association   or individual can create any kind of disturbance in exhibition of the film.  It is becoming a law unto themselves and not respecting the law that governs the land.  Once the film is granted certificate by the competent statutory Board unless the   said   certificate   is   nullified   or   modified   by   any superior authority, the producer or distributor of the film has every right to get it exhibited in a movie hall.   If such   activities   are   encouraged,   the   same   has   the potentiality to bring in anarchy and cripple the right of freedom of speech and expression.  In any case, such bodies, groups or individuals cannot assume the position as if they are the authorities to grant certificate or unless they feel that   the   movie   is   to   be   released,   it   should   not   see   the light   of   the   day.   The   thought,   the   least   said,   is unacceptable.”

“As   an   interim   measure,  it   is   directed   that   all   the respondents   shall   see   to   it   that   wherever   the   film   is released, the law and order is maintained and no one shall be   allowed to create any kind of disturbance.   It is the duty of the State to facilitate the enjoyment of right which has the sanction of law.”

The film was originally supposed to release in 2015 but due to the opposition raised by the group ‘Al Takht’ producer Sikka had withdrawn the film and carried out changes as suggested by the group. The film was certified by the CBFC last month.

The chief objection of the groups was on the portrayal of the gurus or their family members in human form being in violation of Sikh tenets, though the movie claims to have only used graphic effects to outline Guru Nanak.

Update: As reported by Quint, a few hours after the Supreme Court cleared the decks for an all-India release of the controversial movie ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’ on April 13, the Punjab Government banned its screening in the state. The orders were issued by the Punjab Chief Minister’s Office.

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