A single judge bench of the Madras High Court has permitted the release of Kamal Haasan's Vishwaroopam but it doesn't mean residents of Tamil Nadu can expect to catch the film on theatre screens today.
Following the order by Justice K Venkataraman which allowed the release of the film, the government pleaders A Navaneethakrishnan and additional advocate-general PH Aravindh Pandian pleaded for a stay on the order so that they could file an appeal. However, the court refused to grant one.
The government's lawyers reportedly rushed to acting Chief Justice Elipe Dharma Rao's residence on Greenways Road and were granted permission to bring the matter before another high court bench today, Times of India reported.
Theatre owners are reportedly prepared to wait until the outcome of the hearing of the appeal before releasing the film on screens.
The film, scheduled for release on 25 January in Tamil Nadu, is yet to hit theatre screens after the Tamil Nadu government issued prohibitory orders. The prohibitory orders against the release of the film were issued after groups claiming to represent the Muslim community objected to the film on the grounds that it contained material that showed the community in a poor light.
The producers of the film had challenged the order of the Tamil Nadu government and a judge of the Madras High Court had viewed the film before pronouncing his verdict yesterday.
Permitting the release of the film, the judge noted it was surprising that all the District Magistrates/District Collectors of 31 districts, had taken a common decision and passed an order under Section 144 of CrPC "which appears to be strange."
".....In my considered view, no independent reason have been given by District Collectors and solely relied on the statement made by Muslim organisations," the judge said.
Observing that the orders under Section 144 CrPC were passed in view of the representation given by several Muslim organisations, he said their remedy was to approach authority under Cinematograph Act, 1952 to seek redress.
"... No doubt, for making a law and order problem, the Authority competent is entitled to make an order under Section 144 of CrPC but, that does not mean that section of society can curtail the fundamental rights of a citizen, but it has to protect the person whose fundamental rights are threatened to be violated," the court said.
The Tamil Nadu government while seeking to uphold the prohibitory orders on the release of the film had questioned the certificate granted by the film certification authorities and had also accused them of indulging in a scam to allow the release of the film. The government had also reportedly wanted the filmmakers to cut almost an hour of footage from the film.
With inputs from PTI