Mumbai: The Bombay high court on Thursday lashed out at the Maharashtra government for its failure to provide an atmosphere where people can express their feelings without fear. Without naming any film or actor, the court came out in support of the controversial movie Padmavati and said, “A film cannot be released in the country. What have we come to be?”
The court expressed these observations while hearing a bunch of petitions seeking monitoring of the probe into murder of rationalist Dr Narendra Dabholkar and Communist leader Govind Pansare. “It is censorship of a different kind,” observed the division bench of Justice S.C. Dharmadhikari and B.H. Dangre adding, “Here we have a situation in which a chief minister says he will not allow the film to be released… Tomorrow, people will not be able to convene meetings and express their views.”
Padmavati, directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali and starring Deepika Padukone, Shahid Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, was initially slated to open on December 1.
However, now its realise has been indefinitely deferred. However, according to latest reports, the makers are planning to announce a new release date soon. The movie is awaiting a clearance certificate from the Central Board Of Film Certification (CBFC).
After going through a report filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with the probe in the Pansare murder case, the bench expressed its displeasure over its failure to arrest the culprits even after two years. The bench on Thursday directed the superior police officers to “take the lead” and guide investigating officers to nab the accused in this case. “Ask them (CBI and SIT) to hold joint meetings and prepare strategy to arrest the accused (in the murder cases) and if they still fail to nab them we will not hesitate in calling them to court and seeking answers from them in open court,” the bench directed senior counsel Ashok Mundergi, who represented the state government, and additional solicitor general (ASG) Anil Singh appearing for the SIT.
Talking about threat perception to writers, artists, activists and journalists, the bench expressed concerned about the image of India in other countries. Referring to the incident where two foreigners were attacked and killed by mob for refusing to take pictures with locals, the bench said, “Somebody visits this country as a tourist and he is attacked. Imagine the image of our country in the world.”
“People were threatening to reward those who killed the performers or some artists. Such open threats are being televised publicly. Nothing is being done about them,” observed Justice Dharmadhikari. He also said “At the core of these crimes are bold attempts being made by fringe groups to attack those who voice rational views, thoughts, feelings and expressions.” The judge added, “This situation should not be created that the state is helpless or the state doesn’t want to control it.”