Patwardhan film not suited for unrestricted viewing, Doordarshan tells Supreme Court

Siddharth Narrain

The Hindu

Friday, May 26, 2006

 

`It could arouse negative passions and uses obscene and strong language’

  • Matter of policy not to telecast adult films
  • Film has a secular message: counsel
  • Bench seeks screening in court before next hearing

    NEW DELHI: Doordarshan on Thursday told a two-judge Vacation Bench comprising Justice A.R. Lakshmanan and Justice L.S. Panta of the Supreme Court that it was opposed to the screening of National Award-winning film-maker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary film `Father, Son and Holy War’ because it could arouse “negative passions” and uses “obscene and strong language.”

    Doordarshan is appealing against the ruling of the Bombay High Court that it must screen the film.

    Counsel for Doordarshan Rajeev Sharma said the film had been given a UA certificate by the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC).

    He said that it was a matter of policy for Doordarshan not to telecast adult films.

    “We have nothing against him (Mr. Patwardhan) but the question is whether it is a film that must be displayed on a public medium where there is unrestricted access,” he said.

    Counsel for Mr. Patwardhan, Prashant Bhushan, said: “The film has a secular message that is relevant to our times. It is a critique of masculinity. Doordarshan has a policy of showing films that have won national awards, and has constituted a screening committee for the purpose. You may have to show violence to expose misery caused by communal violence.”

    Mr. Justice Lakshmanan and Mr. Justice Panta have requested Doordarshan to arrange for a screening in the Supreme Court premises on July 20, a day before the next hearing.

    The film was submitted for telecast on the national network of Doordarshan after it won the 1995 National Awards for `Best Investigative Documentary’ and `Best Social Documentary.’

    After Doordarshan failed to respond, Mr Patwardhan filed a writ petition in 1998 asking the court to order its telecast on the grounds that Doordarshan was being arbitrary and had violated Patwardhan’s right to freedom of expression and the public’s right to information.

    In February 2001, the Bombay High Court after viewing the film, and hearing arguments directed that Doordarshan telecast the film.

    Doordarshan appealed to the Supreme Court, which in December 2001 directed it to reconstitute its screening committee. The reconstituted committee recommended that Doordarshan telecast the film.

    Doordarshan, however, took the decision to the Prasar Bharti Board, which decided that the film was not fit to be screened. Mr. Patwardhan challenged this decision in the Bombay High Court in 2003.

    The Court upheld the appeal, and said Doordarshan must telecast the film.

     

    Link to the original article