The Supreme Court will hear Tuesday a petition by film producer and director Prakash Jha seeking the quashing of the orders by the Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, and Punjab governments banning or suspending screening of his film "Aarakshan" in these states.
Jha has sought adequate police protection for the public exhibition of the film in all theatres and multiplexes in these states.
Soon after the apex court bench of Justice Altamas Kabir, Justice Cyriac Joseph and Justice S.S.Nijjar assembled at 10.30 a.m. Friday, senior counsel Harish Salve and Mukul Rohtagi mentioned the matter, seeking direction for the quashing of the impugned orders by three state government banning the film.
The court directed the matter be listed at 2 p.m. but when it assembled after lunch, the matter was not called out. However, subsequently it was said it would be listed for hearing Tuesday.
In his petition, Jha said the states could not take recourse to their regulatory statutes to ban the exhibition of a film that has been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification, the statutory body constituted under the Cinematograph Act, 1952.
Jha is known for making films on the socio-political landscape of the country such as "Damul", "Mrityudand", "Gangajal", "Apaharan", and "Rajneeti".
The petition said that the film's screening could not be banned in the light of 1989 judgment of the apex court that open criticism of government policies and operations is not a ground for restriction on the expression of views.
Jha argued that orders of the three state government infringed on his fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under the Article 19(1)(a) of the constitution.
"Aarakshan" was banned by Uttar Pradesh government Wednesday. The same day, Punjab too imposed the ban. However, Punjab's ban was subject to the outcome of the screening of the film before a high-powered committee set up for giving its opinion.
Andhra Pradesh said initially its ban would be for a week and would be subject to the final decision of the committee constituted to evaluate the film in the context of the controversy chasing it.
The film starring Amitabh Bachchan, Saif Ali Khan and Deepika Padukone has run into trouble for certain objectionable dialogues which are offending to the feelings of a certain section of the society.