When Bandit Queen can be released, why not Padmaavat, says Supreme Court

The Supreme Court has cleared all-India release for ‘Padmaavat’. The court has put a stay on the ban on its release in four states. The SC ruled that no state has the right to impose ban on a movie. Photograph:( WION )

WION Web Team New Delhi, Delhi, India Jan 18, 2018, 06.30 AM (IST)

The Supreme Court said Thursday that the movie Padmaavat would have to be released across the country. Four states -- Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana, and Madhya Pradesh -- had banned the release of the film. 

"When Bandit Queen can be released, why not this movie?" Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra asked while passing his order. Bandit Queen was the controversial 1994 movie made on the life of dacoit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi. 

The court added that a state cannot ban a movie on the expectation that it will lead to law and order troubles. And that it was the states' job to ensure peace. 

Padmaavat, which has been cleared by the CBFC, is scheduled for release on January 25

The movie's producers -- Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures -- had approached the Supreme Court after the four states had banned the release. 

The producers had in their petition referred to an earlier Supreme Court order stating that the release of a film cannot be banned on the expectation of law and order troubles. 

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Also read: Padmaavat release row: Rajasthan, Haryana say they respect SC decision, will see if can appeal

Representing the producers at the court, lawyer Harish Salve said to the court the federal structure is destroyed if the states ban a film. "If somebody has a problem, then he or she can approach appellate tribunal for relief. The state can't touch the content of a film. Request the Central government to pass a direction to the states for a better and an effective step and solution," Salve said while representing producers of Padmaavat at the Supreme Court.

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A bench of CJI and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud said cinemas are an inseparable part of Right to Free Speech and Expression through the medium of celluloid and guaranteed under Article 19 of Constitution. The court said all states are constitutionally obliged to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incident during the screening of the film across India, a permission granted by CBFC. SC posted the matter for further hearing on March 26th. 

Also see: Is Padmaavat releasing on January 24th? 

On Wednesday Bhansali and Viacom 18, producers of the film had moved SC to contest the ban. 

Padmaavat features Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor in the lead roles and is scheduled to release across the country on January 25th.