When people are expecting Mullaperiyar issue to be resolved, ‘why aggravate situation’?

The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed filmmaker Sohan Roy’s petition challenging a further extension of the ban by the Tamil Nadu government on screening of DAM 999 in the State.

A Bench of Justices P. Sathasivam, J.S. Khehar and Vikramajit Sen declined to interfere with the government order.

According to the petitioner, the movie is an emotional thriller and tribute to the souls lost in the world’s worst manmade dam disasters, and that it has nothing to do with the Mullaperiyar dam, an issue in dispute between Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The petitioner said that on December 16, 2011 the State extended the suspension of exhibition of the movie, initially ordered for two weeks, to six months without any valid reason. On June 19, 2012, the ban was again extended by three months during the pendency of an earlier writ petition and it was further extended by three months in December.

Justice Sathasivam told counsel P.V. Dinesh and Deepak Prakash: “Legally you may be right. We are not underestimating your right…In your statement many things have come out. [The petitioner had stated before the authorities that the film had nothing to do with Mullaperiyar dam; if anything happens to the dam and if there is a breach, his relatives would be the first victim].”

Justice Sathasivam said: “The ban is only for three months, already one month is over. If there is a law and order problem, what will happen? You have already exhibited the film in other States. The court cannot ignore the apprehensions expressed by the State and consider only individual rights. The Tamil Nadu government says if the film is released, relations between the two States will be affected. When an elected government raises this issue, can the court ignore [it]?”

The judge further said: “The people are expecting this issue [of the Mullaperiyar dam] will be resolved. At this stage, why should we aggravate the situation not only in Tamil Nadu but also in Kerala? We can’t close our eyes to the objections and decide the case purely on legal aspects. We have to respect the sentiments of the people”.

The petitioner had said the Tamil Nadu government was approaching the issue with a prejudiced mind since he was a Kerala resident.