The ban on Kamal Hassan-starrer Vishwaroopam was restored on Wednesday, with the Madras High Court setting aside a single Judge’s interim order staying the ban.

Disposing of appeals filed by the Tamil Nadu government challenging the single Judge’s order, the First Bench comprising the Acting Chief Justice Elipe Dharma Rao and Justice Aruna Jagadeesan directed the government to file its reply before the single Judge in all the writ petitions connected to the issue on February 4, as submitted by the Advocate-General (AG).

Considering the heavy financial loss urged on the part of Rajkamal Films International, the producer of the film who is the petitioner, and considering the urgency involved in the matter, the Bench requested the single Judge to take up all the writ petitions connected to the subject on February 6 or any other date convenient to him and dispose them of.

In his order, the single Judge had said he was of the view that the order under Section 144 Cr.P.C. was liable to be kept in abeyance for the present. He granted an interim injunction restraining the authorities from interfering with the petitioner’s rights in releasing the film.

The AG, A. Navaneethakrishnan, submitted there were specific provisions in the Cr.P.C. for the aggrieved party under sub-sections (4) and (5) of Section 144 to approach the same authority or government by way of revision against such orders. When such a remedy was available, the writ petitioner, without availing itself of the same, had rushed to the court. This is not maintainable, he said.

Senior counsel for Rajkamal Films International, P.S. Raman, said the film had been censored by the Central Board of Film Certification and granted the necessary certificate to screen the movie. The State Government had no authority to ban the screening as pre-censorship by the State Government or its agencies was impermissible.

The Bench said though remedial measures were provided for in the Cr.P.C., the aggrieved party had not availed itself of them and had initiated the writ proceedings under Art.226 of the Constitution. It was in these circumstances that the AG had raised objection with regard to the maintainability of the writ petitions and the consequent passing of interim orders.

The single Judge had passed an interim order after having found there was a prima facie case in favour of the writ petitioners, but before any counter had been filed by the respondents. By granting the interim order, virtually the film had been allowed to be screened which would automatically make the writ petitions pending before the single Judge infructuous. Therefore, since such an interim order was in the nature of granting the main relief, the Bench said it was setting aside the interim order.