In yet another instance, a Writ Petition was filed in the Delhi High Court against the ‘Glorification of Sati’ in the recently released film, Padmaavat. The Petitioner, in his petition, has contended that specific scenes in the film are promoting and appreciating the practice of ‘Sati’ and it is on this premise that certain necessary actions need to be taken to admonish the portrayal of the illegal practise via film. Certain other directions were sought which included the deletion of the relevant scenes from the film, restrain the screening of the relevant scenes on the public forum and issuing necessary directions to the Delhi Police to take action against the directors and producers of the film.

The High Court opined that the interpretation of the film is on the basis of articles that have critiqued the film, which the petitioner has relied upon and has formed his opinion on the same. The Court further emphasized that a Writ cannot be issued in this petition as it is based on the premise of ‘Individual Perception’ of the Petitioner. The Court placed reference to Section 2 (1) (b) of the Commission of Sati (Prevention) Act of 1987 which emphasizes upon the actual practise of Sati and not upon any visual illustration by way of fictional presentation i.e. the Film. The film merely depicted the practise of Sati that took place and it has not intended to promote the practise of Sati or other similar practices. The Court referred to the case of Nachiketa Walhekar v. Central Board of Film Certification & Anr, i.e. the Documentary of Delhi CM Arvind Kejriwal and highlighted that

“A thought provoking film should never mean that it has to be didactic or in any way puritanical. It can be expressive and provoking the conscious or the sub-conscious thoughts of the viewer. If there has to be any limitation, that has to be as per the prescription in law.”

The High Court also placed reference to the recent judgement of Viacom 18 Media v Union of India, better known as the ‘Padmaavat’ case and opined that the concerned authority i.e. the Central Board for Film Certification (CBFC), has taken into account all the Guidelines before issuance of the certificate. Any objections against certain scenes could have been taken at the appropriate time as the content of the film has been within the sphere of public domain for a long time. The CBFC, being the certifying authority, has scrutinized the film and has, accordingly, granted the film a U/A certification after due application of mind and consideration of the relevant materials. The grievance of the Petitioner should have been placed before the CBFC along with the relevant material at the appropriate time. Accordingly, the High Court dismissed the Petition as it lacked any merit in its cause.



Judgment:Swami Agnivesh V/s Union of India and Others