Supreme Court refuses to vacate its interim order on release of the film ‘Nanak Shah Fakir’

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The Supreme Court on April 16, 2018 refused to stay the release of the film Nanak Shah Fakir based on the life of Guru Nanak Dev saying that the Constitution protects the filmmakers to make a movie as long as it does not impinge on secularism.

Refusing to interfere with order dated April 10, 2018 directing the states to ensure that no obstruction was caused in the release and screening of the film, a bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice AM Khanwilkar and Justice DY Chandrachud said: “As long as the film does not denigrate Sikhism and it only seeks to glorify Guru Nanak Dev we will not interfere…”

The order came on a plea by the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) which contended that there could not be any portrayal of Sikh Gurus, their immediate family members and the Panj Payaras by any mortal beings. The SC refused to extend the scope of the primary writ petition to decide the contents of the right under Article 26(b) of a religious denomination to manage its own matters in affairs of religion.

Appearing for the Sikh body, senior counsel PS Patwalia referred to a 2003 resolution of the SGPC and reiterated that there cannot be any depiction of Sikh Gurus by any living being. He further informed the court that the SGPC is a statutory body constituted under the Sikh Gurudwaras Act of 1925 and the Akal Takht is the highest spiritual body.

“We cannot enforce a rule that no one may write a book on a religion or make a painting so based…these are secular matters…you could only make a submission that the image (of Guru Nanak) is being degraded in the depiction…,” noted Justice DY Chandrachud. “You may also make the submission that the actor playing Guru Nanak may not be given any credit…he shall be an abstract man…he may be regarded as ‘X’…,” added the Chief Justice. “The question is of the glory of Guru Nanak…”, concluded the Chief Justice.

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