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Govt. duty-bound to support freedom of expression: Tharoor

Ipsita Pati
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Speaking on the balance between creative expression and public order, Union Minister of State for Human Resource Development Shashi Tharoor said here on Friday that governments should “err on the side of creative freedom”.

“When governments balance creative expression versus public order one would hope that the government — the State government or the Central government — would err on the side of creative freedom.”

He was speaking on the sidelines of an event at the 37{+t}{+h}International Kolkata Book Fair.

When asked to comment on demands for a ban on the film Vishwaroopam , he said: “We have under the law a film censor body that has the job of certifying whether a film can be screened, whether it needs cut and paste. And once it is done, normally, it should be screened. But now, when the judiciary gets involved, we from the government can do nothing. The judiciary has its own authority and we have to respect judicial judgement.”

“The Government has the obligation to uphold the law in our Constitution. The Constitution requires the Government to support freedom of expression, the freedom of the Press. It also requires the Government to recognise the need of law and order, public order and safety,” he said.

“Ultimately everyone has the right to protest peacefully…. but preventing those who want to see the films or banning the books is an infringement on our freedom. We need to strike a balance that will uphold public order but at the same time allow all of us the freedom to choose what to read and to view within the limit of our society and our comfort,” he added.

When asked to comment on the sudden cancellation of Salman Rushdie’s visit to the city, Mr. Tharoor said: “I can not comment on any specific act of any government.”

As a writer, Mr Tharoor said, he would like to see other writers get opportunities to express their ideas in society which can be heard, debated, challenged or embraced.

“We in our society should create a climate to reduce the intolerance level. Cultural intolerance these days has increased and various segments of the society take pride in being more intolerant,” he said.


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