HC clears decks for release of Vishwaroopam in Tamil Nadu

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Decks were cleared tonight for the release of actor-director Kamal Haasan's controversial Tamil movie 'Vishwaroopam' with the Madras High Court lifting the ban imposed by the Tamil Nadu government after protests by Muslim outfits.

Justice K Venkataraman granted the interim stay of the operation of the order made under Section 144 of the CrPC by district collectors across the state that had prevented the release of the movie made with a nearly Rs 100 crore budget.

"Considering the totality of circumstances, I am of the view that the order made under Section 144 of CrPC is liable to be kept in abeyance for the present," said the judge in his interim order after a day-long hearing.

However, Advocate General A Navaneethakrishnan told reporters outside the court that the court's order was not final and would be challenged.

The judge, who viewed the spy-thriller on Saturday, said the order has been passed considering the prima facie case established by Kamal Haasan, who had questioned the two-week ban, imposed after Muslim outfits were up in arms against its release claiming it portrayed their community in a bad light.

The court said it was surprising to note that all the District Magistrates/District Collectors of 31 districts, had taken a common decision and passed an order under Section 144 of CrPC "which appears to be strange."

".....In my considered view, no independent reason have been given by District Collectors and solely relied on the statement made by Muslim organisations," the judge said.

Haasan was not available for comment soon after the court gave him the much needed relief with estimates that he could have incurred a loss of Rs 30-80 crore due to the non-release of the film in the state.

The judge made it clear that the matter will be decided on merit and in accordance with the law and "...Any expression made hereunder (today's order) shall not be viewed as a final decision..."

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