Ban on Vishwaroopam stayed

  • Special Correspondent
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Verdict comes after marathon arguments by lawyers

Kamal Haasan…Victory at last
Kamal Haasan…Victory at last

The Madras High Court on Tuesday night stayed the Tamil Nadu government’s ban on actor-director Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam , paving the way for the film’s release in the State on Wednesday.

“Considering the totality of circumstances, the orders under Section 144 of the Cr.PC should be kept in abeyance,” Justice K. Venkataraman said in his order passed after 10 p.m. Earlier, he heard arguments for over six hours during the course of the day on the validity of the two-week ban.

He also restrained the State government from interfering with the release of the film in Tamil through an interim injunction.

It was a long day for lawyers and Kamal Haasan fans, with the general public too joining in, as everyone anxiously awaited the court’s verdict on the validity of the ban .

There was heavy police deployment at important junctions on roads leading to the court building. At every entrance to the court complex, the police frisked the public and litigants. Just hours before arguments began the police thoroughly checked the court premises using handheld devices.

Heated arguments and counter arguments with twists and turns preceded the decision of the court, as stakeholders and fans anxiously waited.

The arguments commenced by 11.30 a.m. and ended only at 6 p.m. with Justice Venkataraman indicating that he would pass an order by 8.30 p.m. However, this was put off to 10 p.m.

Earlier, counsel for Kamal Haasan contended that Vishwaroopam did not even remotely deal with any Indian Muslim or the Indian Muslim community.

Arguing against the ban imposed through orders issued by authorities in different towns and cities, P. S. Raman, senior counsel, said, “The only Muslim in the film is the hero [played by Kamal Haasan.] He is a good man.”

Strongly opposing the ban, Mr. Raman said the producer had not received a single order issued by the Collector. The communication had been sent directly to cinema theatres. He wondered how identical, stereotyped orders had been issued by Collectors the same day. “Definitely, there should have been a directive.” The orders had grave constitutional implications. He asked whether the constitutional machinery had broken down in the State. This was nothing but pre-censorship. “What you cannot do directly, you do it indirectly.”

Advocate-General A. Navaneethakrishnan alleged that the film had not been certified by the competent authority. There was no application of mind on the film by the CBFC. Only the ‘examining committee’ had seen the film. The board could not delegate its power to anybody. The certification was not in accordance with law. At one stage, he said that “film certification is a very big scam.” It required an investigation. Mr. Navaneethakrishnan’s remark drew strong objection from Mr. Raman who said if it were so, all films should have been banned. Why only Vishwaroopam , he asked.

P. Wilson, Additional Solicitor General of India appearing for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the Central Board of Film Certification, said the State government could not impose a ban once a censor certificate had been duly issued.

Counsel for the Federation of Tamil Nadu Muslims’ Social and Political Organisations R. Sankarasubbu said the entire content of the film affected the sentiments of the Muslim community.

  • Counsel for Kamal Haasan contended that the film does not deal with any Indian Muslim

  • ‘The State government cannot impose a ban once a censor certificate has been duly issued’

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