Court overrides city’s ‘moral’ cops

The Asian Age.  | Shahab Ansari

Metros, Mumbai

Located in a busy commercial area, Lamington Road in South Mumbai, Imperial Cinema is amongst city's oldest cinema halls.

The court held that if the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) passes a movie for the viewing public, then the theatre owner can display its poster outside the theatre and hence acquitted Gadwal.

Mumbai: A magistrate court in Girgaon has acquitted the owner of Imperial Cinema in south Mumbai from the charge of exhibiting an obscene poster for a movie Shark ka Aatank outside his theatre. Following the complaint of a police officer, a case of exhibiting an obscene movie poster was registered against Salim Gadwal, the theatre owner. However, the court held that movies are played in cinema halls only after the censor board issues an appropriate certificate, and the prosecution did not claim that such a certificate was not issued for this movie.

Located in a busy commercial area of Lamington Road, the Imperial was established in 1905 as an orchestra theatre and is amongst the city's oldest cinema halls.

The court held that if the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) passes a movie for the viewing public, then the theatre owner can display its poster outside the theatre and hence acquitted Gadwal.

The prosecution case was that on November 24, 2014, when police sub-inspector Somnath Padsalkar was passing through Lamington Road area, he noticed the obscene photos of a dubbed movie called Shark Ka Aatank displayed on a flake outside Imperial cinema.

According to police, Padsalkar arranged for the removal of the said flake and filed a complaint with the D. B. Marg police station where he was posted at that time. The cops registered a case under Indian Penal Code (IPC) section 292 (sale of obscene books etc).

The prosecution examined two witnesses including a panch, before whom the flake was seized, and the officer who filed the complaint against the owner of the theatre.

According to the complainant, Imperial is located in a busy commercial area and often people stop there to see obscene posters, which obstructs the path of other pedestrians and also causes traffic jams.

Gadwal's defence lawyer P S Iyer argued that no case can be made out against the accused and that he had been falsely implicated in the case.

After hearing the arguments, magistrate V. R. Dasri observed that as per law no cinema hall can exhibit any movie until the censor board issues an appropriate certificate for public display of the move. Magistrate Dasri held that if the owner of the theatre was displaying flake of the movie, it only means that the censor board has issued appropriate certificate to the movie for public show and it was not in violation of law. The magistrate observed that it is not the case of the prosecution that the censor board had not issued appropriate certificate for display of the movie. According to the magistrate, in such a situation the statement of complainant is of no use and the prosecution failed to prove its charge beyond reasonable doubt and hence Gadwal is acquitted.

Located in a busy commercial area, Lamington Road in South Mumbai, Imperial Cinema is amongst city's oldest cinema halls. It was established in 1905 as an orchestra theatre. It now plays soft porn and Bhojpuri movies. The tickets are as cheap as Rs 35 to 50 and the crowd consist mostly of labourers. It is a small theatre and has a single screen running just two to three shows in a day.

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