Supreme Court lifts ban on Jodhaa Akbar

The Supreme Court on Tuesday lifted the ban on the screening of Jodhaa Akbar across the country till March 14, when it agreed to take up the matter for further directions. An interim directive in this regard came from the Bench presided by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan, which then posted the petition filed by the film's producer, UTV Software Communication Limited, for further hearing after 10 days.

"The fundamental right to speech and expression is being trampled over by various state governments with the sole objective of gaining political mileage by banning the film," senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for the producer, submitted before the court. The Bench, also comprising Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal, were told how just by way of an administrative decision, the Uttar Pradesh Government has attempted to curtail the fundamental right of speech and expression. On March 1, the principal secretary of the UP Government exercising his powers under Section 6 of UP Cinema (Regulation) Act, 1955, imposed restrictions on screening of the film across the state.

Desai contended how the film was solely for entertainment and did not claim to be historically accurate as alleged by certain groups trying to rake up a controversy. It was informed how all the necessary approvals before release of the film were taken, including the mandatory Censor Board of Film Certification. Now, the film has been banned in UP, Madhya Pradesh and various cities of Haryana and Rajasthan not on the basis of any law, but on the basis of administrative orders, which is completely unconstitutional, the petitioner submitted while seeking urgent directions from the Bench.

During the hearing, when the Bench suggested that the producer approach the concerned High Court for relief, the senior advocate remarked, "it would be like Bharat darshan," contending several states have imposed restrictions.

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