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Court no to include film in IFFI Indian panorama

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A still from Pazhassi Raja
A still from Pazhassi Raja

J. Venkatesan

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday rejected a demand to include the Malayalam film Pazhassi Raja in the Indian panorama section of the International Film Festival of India, which is to end on Thursday.

A Bench comprising Justices Tarun Chatterjee and S.S. Nijjar dismissed a special leave petition against an order of the Delhi High Court declining to grant interim relief to the petitioner by including the film in the Indian panorama section.

Referring to the petitioner, Pazhassi Raja Charitable Trust’s demand for urgent relief, the Bench said: “This court can grant the relief in cases where manifest injustice has been done; or where there is manifest illegality or manifest want of jurisdiction. In the present case, we are concerned with a purely commercial venture, where Pazhassi Raja is vying for fame with another commercial film, Mangal Pandey.”

Writing the order, Justice Nijjar said: “It is not disputed that Pazhassi Raja has already been released in the commercial sectors. It seeks to depict a viewpoint on the first war of Independence which may or may not be generally acceptable. We are not called upon to decide on the issue in these proceedings. In any event, the film is a viewpoint of the individuals or the team involved in the production. We are unable to see how Article 21 of the Constitution can be said to have been infringed in the facts and circumstances of this case. We are, however, of the opinion that the petitioner has not been rendered remedy-less merely by denial of interim relief.”

The petitioner claimed the film was of national importance and its purpose was to enlighten people on the heroic life history of ‘Kerala’s Pazhassi Raja.’ In spite of its artistic and historic importance, it was not accepted for screening at the IFFI - 2009.

Aggrieved by the wholly “arbitrary conduct and actions of the selectors at the festival,” the petitioner initially approached the Kerala High Court and later the Delhi High Court which, while issuing notice, did not grant any interim relief. The SLP was directed against this order.

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