The Tamil Nadu government’s ban on Kamal Haasan’s film Vishwaroopam may go against a clear Supreme Court directive which puts film certification powers in the Central government’s hands.
On Thursday — a day after the two-week prohibitory order was slapped citing law and order concerns — Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari told the State government to look at an earlier SC verdict that gave the Censor Board the final say in the matter.
“The Supreme Court of India in Prakash Jha’s [Aarakshan] matter had the occasion of considering the various provisions of the Cinematograph Act and juxtaposing them against the law and order powers which the State government has under the Constitution,” Mr. Tewari told journalists in the capital on Thursday.
“The Supreme Court was very categorical that Article 246, seventh schedule, list one, entry sixty gives the Central government the powers to certify films for exhibition and once the Central Board for Film Certification has taken a particular view, it binds all the other instrumentalities of the State.”
The spy thriller — directed, produced and starring Kamal Haasan — was due to hit the screens this weekend. However, protests by some Muslim organisations led to a police order directing theatre owners not to release the film on January 25, which is also observed as the Prophet Mohammed’s birthday. The filmmaker moved the Madras High Court, which has postponed a decision to January 28, after a judge has watched the movie.
Mr. Tewari advised “the Tamil Nadu government [to] peruse that judgement of the Supreme Court in Prakash Jha’s case before coming to any conclusion which may fall foul of the very clear directive the court has given.”