Bhobishyoter Bhoot — SC imposes Rs 20 lakh fine on West Bengal govt: 'Speech can't be silenced due to fear of mob'
The Supreme Court on Thursday put a fine worth Rs 20 lakh on the West Bengal government, led by Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, for a shadow ban on Bhobishyoter Bhoot, reports News18. The court stated that “free speech can't be silenced due to fear of the mob”.
The judicial body expressed concern over the gradual growth of intolerance against creative works and blatantly said, “Don’t watch a film, don't turn the pages of the book, don't hear what's not music to the ears...but you cannot curb freedom of the others.”
The political satire, directed by Anik Dutta, met with an unfortunate fate when it was unceremoniously pulled out of multiple theatres, after directions from Kolkata Joint Commissioner of Police who cited political law and order problem in his order.
The bench, headed by Justice DY Chandrachud, termed such measures as "insidious". He added that a police body cannot become a self-appointed vigil of moral authority. "They can't suppress dissent and freedom to speech and expression...Arbitrary exercise of powers by the State can't be permitted. This case exposes the dangers of scuttling freedom to speech and expression," the operative portion of Justice Chandrachud's directive read.
Justice Hemant Gupta was also part of the bench, which ruled that a film, once certified, did not need any other form of approval from any extra-judiciary authority in order to be screened.
"You can't put curbs on fundamental human freedom. Organised interests can't threaten the freedom of theatre owners, artists," the verdict further stated.
"Speech can't be silenced due to fear of the mob. Art and literature will become victims of intolerance if the State doesn't act and protect this right of the artists," noted the bench.
An additional amount of Rs 1 lakh was imposed on the state as the cost of the litigation. The court was passing its verdict based on on a writ petition filed by Indibily Creative Pvt Ltd, which challenged the validity of police officers' letter to forbid screening of Bhobishyoter Bhoot.
Updated Date: Apr 11, 2019 15:35:13 IST
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