The Supreme Court of India inflicted fine of Rs. 20 Lakhs on West Bengal Government for banning the film “BhobhishyoterBhoot”. The apex court showed concern over “growing intolerance” in the field of art in our society. It further stated that free speech cannot be gagged for the fear of the mob. In the past, the cast directed the West Bengal Government to make sure there is a smooth screening of the film.
The film was part of controversy due to its content which tried to mock political parties. The producer of the film claimed that the State government was misusing its power and acted as “super censor”. He further stated that hindering in the release of the film violates its rights, as it obtained UA certificate of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The Court stated in its previous interim order that the film had duly obtained a UA certificate from CBFC. It further said that it does not require permission from any other body like State Government. Actions like those of the State directly affect negatively upon the fundamental right to the freedom of speech and expression.
The petitioner further submitted that he received a letter from the State Government asking for a pre-screening of the film for senior officers of the Intelligence Unit.
The film was taken down abruptly from majority cinema halls on two of the film’s release and the viewers were being refunded the price of their tickets. The petition claims that they were informed by several exhibitors that the unnamed “higher authorities” asked them to take down the film. Further, the petition urged the State to uphold the Rule of Law and Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression.