Supreme Court Clears ‘Padmaavat’, Tells States To Maintain Law And OrderA still from the trailer of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s upcoming film Padmaavat (Viacom18 Motion Pictures/YouTube)

The Supreme Court on Thursday (18 January) stayed a ban on the release of the film Padmaavat in six states, allowing it to be released across the country on 25 January, The Times of India reported.

The apex court restrained other states from imposing any ban on the release of the Sanjay Leela Bhansali film. All states are constitutionally obliged to maintain law and order and prevent any untoward incidents during the screening of the film, said the top court.

A bench comprising Chief Justice of India Dipak Misra and justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud observed that the film was cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) with a U/A certificate for an all-India screening after considering the provisions of the Cinematograph Act that prohibits scenes denigrating women.

The judges upheld Bhansali’s contention that the film formed a part of the filmmaker's freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19 of the Constitution. Cinemas are an inseparable part of the right to free speech and expression through the medium of celluloid, the bench said.

Appearing for Bhansali, senior advocate Harish Salve pointed out at a 2011 judgement of the court that allowed the screening of Prakash Jha's controversial film Aarakshan.
The matter will be taken up for further hearing on March 26.

Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Haryana, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh had banned the film’s release. Bhansali, in his petition, accused the states of bowing down to threats by fringe groups.

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