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Govt sides with censor board on ‘Aarakshan’
R Sedhuraman
Legal Correspondent

New Delhi, August 12
Defending the censor board's decision to allow the film "Aakarshan" release, the Centre today ruled out any scope for intervention in the matter.

“I am fully with the decision of the Censor Board.... My Ministry has no role in it,” Information and Broadcasting Minister Ambika Soni told reporters on the sidelines of a function here.

To a question why the I & B Ministry was not intervening, Soni said: “In the Cinematograph Act, there was some scope for intervention earlier. But in 2000, that right was taken away by the Supreme Court. As of today, the Ministry has no right to intervene.” She said the Central Board of Film Certification is an autonomous body and it had been reconstituted very recently.

The I&B Minister said: “Generally four people of the board view a film before its release. But this time, chairperson Leela Samson constituted a nine-member panel for the film comprising Dalit, OBC, Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe representatives. There is also a Dalit activist Rajni Tilak and retired justice Mukul Mudgal."

Meanwhile, producer Prakash Jha today made all efforts to have the ban on his Bollywood film, “Aarakshan”, in three states — Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh - lifted by the Supreme Court, but was not successful.

The Director’s lawyer appeared before a Bench headed by Justice Altamas Kabir immediately after the court began hearing the cases listed for the day in the morning and said a petition had been filed challenging the ban and it required urgent hearing.

The Bench agreed to hear the plea at 2 pm in view of the fact that the film was released across the country today, save the three states. But the hearing did not take place till about 4 pm when the court rose for the day, apparently due to the delay in getting the petition numbered by the apex court’s Registry in time.

However, it has since been numbered and listed for hearing on August 16 before a Bench comprising Justices MK Sharma and Anil R Dave.

According to Jha’s counsel, Ameet Naik, the writ petition had pointed out several shortcomings in the ban order, slapped by the three states citing the difficulty in maintaining law and order in the wake of its release as it dealt with the sensitive caste issue involved in “Aarakshan” (reservation). The petition said the states had limited scope for banning a film cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification, the statutory body set up under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.

The Board had members from almost all sections of society, including the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and other backward castes. The ban also violated the producer's fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, it said.

Meanwhile, Jha has reportedly expressed his willingness to delete some parts from the controversial film in a bid to convince the states concerned to lift the ban.

With inputs from PTI

Punjab to lift ban after changes

The Punjab Government has decided not to lift the ban on Parkash Jha’s ‘Aarakshan’ till certain changes are made in the screenplay. The decision is based on the report submitted by a special committee set up by the government for the purpose. Since the overall message of the movie is a “positive” one, the committee feels that the movie may be released in Punjab after some amendments.





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