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SC refuses to wade into ‘Padmavati’ row

“It would be premature and tantamount to prejudging the issue,” a threejudge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Nov 21, 2017, 12.32 AM IST
The makers had earlier said that they have deferred the movie's release which was originally scheduled for December 1.
The Supreme Court on Monday refused to wade into the political storm raging over the movie Padmavati, saying that it cannot step into the matter since the CBFC was yet to clear the film for release.

“It would be premature and tantamount to prejudging the issue,” a threejudge bench led by Chief Justice Dipak Misra said.

Advocate Manohar Lal Sharma had filed a public interest litigation, challenging the release of the promotional songs of the movie on the ground that they portrayed an “Indian lady” — Queen Padmavati — as a “dancer”.

“This is character assassination,” he claimed. “The CBFC (Central Board of Film Certification) has yet to see the material. But four songs have been released.” The lawyer contended that the songs were part of the movie and could not have been released without censor board’s clearance.

The board has returned the application to the movie producers, Sharma said. Viacom 18, which produced the movie, said the CBFC had sought only more information about the movie. “This is a continuous process,” senior advocate Harish N Salve said on behalf of the company. “These things go back and forth,” he said, suggesting that the process was ongoing. He, however, argued that the promos had been cleared. “No promo can be shown without the clearance of the censor board,” he said.

The board will eventually set up an examination committee which will examine the movie. “This is the normal procedure. Things go up and down,” he suggested.

CJI Misra eventually refused to jump into the political controversy on the ground that it was “premature”.

“Let it first to the censor board and then the tribunal before coming to us,” he remarked.

“The censor board has a definite role. It will go by the guidelines. We are on an altogether different plane,” he said. “Can this court pass an injunction against them preventing them from doing their statutory duty? Ask them to stop the movie?”

Sharma persisted with his plea, saying that he wanted to file a defamation case against the film’s makers with the court’s permission. But the CJI rejected his plea, saying: “Let’s not go hither and thither.”

At one point, when Sharma accused Salve of lying, the CJI corrected him: “No lawyer lies in court. The lawyer is just doing a job. You can say that he is not stating facts correctly.”

Salve said some senior advocates were chary of appearing in PILs because of such personal attacks on them. The CJI then passed an order saying the plea was premature and dismissed the case.

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