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Police nod not required for plays in theatres, auditoriums

AGE CORRESPONDENT
Published : Sep 27, 2016, 2:19 am IST
Updated : Sep 27, 2016, 2:19 am IST

The state government has informed the Bombay high court that a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the police is not required for enacting plays and dramas at the city’s auditoriums and theatres.

Amol Palekar
 Amol Palekar

The state government has informed the Bombay high court that a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the police is not required for enacting plays and dramas at the city’s auditoriums and theatres.

A division bench of Chief Justice Manjula Chellur and Justice M.S. Sonak was hearing a writ petition filed by Bollywood filmmaker and actor Amol Palekar challenging rules that make pre-censorship of the scripts of plays mandatory, as per the Maharashtra State Performance Scrutiny Board and Bombay Police Act.

On Monday, the state government placed before the court a notification that was issued by Mumbai police commissioner Dutta Padsalgikar on

March 3, 2016. According to the notification, no police NOC is required for a variety of programmes, such as plays, dramas, classical music, dance and ghazal programmes, temporary orchestra during functions in co-op societies, receptions, annual functions of schools and colleges, and get-togethers and meetings in star hotels.

However, the state also made it clear that organisers required local police and traffic police permissions if they want to hold a programme in an open public place, in which a foreigner will perform.

While hearing the petition, the court said the notification has cleared all doubts that were raised in the petition and asked the petitioner to file his reply on the next hearing.

Mr Palekar in his petition has said the rules are “arbitrary” and ‘violative’ of the fundamental rights of a citizen guaranteed under the Constitution of India.

Under section 33(1)(a) of the Bombay Police Act, the commissioner of police or superintendent of police can frame rules for Licensing and Controlling Places of Public Amusement (other than cinemas) and Performance for Public Amusement including Melas and Tamashas.

By these rules, for regulation in the interest of public order, decency or morality, prior scrutiny of such performances and of the script was made mandatory. After scrutiny, a certificate would be issued subject to conditions.

”This pre-censorship leads to curtailment of artistic freedom. Because of this, many historic plays have not been performed in its original form,” the petition said.