Row over Delhi 6: HC quashes FIR against Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra

Delhi 6

The Delhi High Court today quashed an FIR, lodged against director Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra for allegedly depicting 'Valmiki' community in poor light in film Delhi-6, saying the Constitution "guarantees not only freedom of speech but also freedom after speech."

"A film (Delhi 6) that carries a message against a social evil cannot be made impermissible on the ground that it depicts the social evil. It has to be borne in mind that a film that illustrate consequences of social evil, must necessarily show that evil," Justice Manmohan said.

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"Consequently, the present petition is allowed and the FIR dated March 7, 2009 registered with Police Station Mandir Marg, under ... the Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act... read with Section 7(d) of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 is quashed," the court said.

The FIR was lodged by Jai Kishan, an MLA from Sultanpuri in North West Delhi against Mehra alleging that film, starring Abhishek Bachchan, Sonam Kapoor as lead actors, had depicted a girl of Valmiki community in "derogatory" manner in the movie.

The court, in its 37-page verdict, said, "In fact, the certificate issued by CBFC furnishes a complete legal justification to the petitioner for public exhibition of the film and exonerates them from offences under IPC, the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as well as The Protection of Civil Rights Act."

Justice Manmohan, who also watched the movie during the hearing, said film Delhi-6 "being a piece of art" was entitled to protection under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution (which deals with freedom of speech and expression).

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