Supreme Court of India
Supreme Court of India

SC slaps Rs 20 lakh fine on West Bengal government for obstructing film's screening

ANI | Updated: Apr 11, 2019 20:00 IST

New Delhi (India) Apr 11 (ANI): The Supreme Court on Thursday asked West Bengal government to pay Rs 20 lakh compensation to the producers for obstructing the screening of the film ‘Bhobishyoter Bhoot’.
A bench headed by Justice DY Chandrachud directed West Bengal government to give Rs 20 lakh to the producer for the violation of their rights of free speech and expression.
The political satire directed by Anik Dutta was taken off screens a day after its release on February 15. Theatre owners alleged that the police had ordered to do so.
“Those who disagree have a simple expedient: of not watching a film, not turning the pages of the book or not hearing what is not music to their ears. The Constitution does not permit those in authority who disagree to crush the freedom of others to believe, think and express," the bench observed.
“The instruments of the state must be utilised to effectuate the exercise of freedom. When organised interests threaten the properties of theatre owners or the viewing audience with reprisals, it is the plain duty of the state to ensure that speech is not silenced by the fear of the mob," said the bench.
"Unless we were to read a positive obligation on the state to create and maintain conditions in which the freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution can be exercised, there is a real danger that art and literature would become victims of intolerance," it observed.
Earlier, the apex court had directed West Bengal government to issue a circular to all theatres stating that “there is no ban on the screening” of the film. It had also asked the government to ensure unhindered screening of the film.
Indibily Creative Pvt Ltd, the producer of the film, had approached the top court alleging that the movie was taken off from a majority of theatres at the instructions of the State authorities.
The producer had alleged that the state of West Bengal was misusing police power and acting as a "super-censor." (ANI)