The Supreme on 18 January put a stay on the ban on the release of the film ‘Padmaavat’ by as many as four states in India.
A three-judge bench gave the ruling paving the way for the release of the film which has been in the centre of controversy for the past few months.
The governments in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh had banned the film following protests by fringe groups.
The apex court not only stayed all the “notifications and orders” issued by the states banning the release of the controversial film but also issued orders preventing any other state from banning the film.
“We direct that there shall be a stay of operation on the notification and orders issued and we also restrain other states from issuing such notifications or orders in this matter,” the bench said in its interim order.
“Creative freedom, freedom of speech and expression can’t be guillotined…artistic freedom has to be protected,” the SC said.
The bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilklar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud ruled that instead of banning the film the states should ensure the maintenance of law and order.
A petition challenging the ban on the film was filed in the apex court by the producers of the film, Bhansali Productions and Viacom18 Motion Pictures.
Representing the petitioners, senior advocates Harish Salve and Mukul Rohatgi contended that the film has undergone all the changes, including a change in name, as suggested by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
The CBFC has cleared the release of the film.
Fringe groups have been protesting against ‘Padmaavat’ over the content of the film. They allege that the film insults Rajputs. Many political leaders, including the chief ministers, openly expressed their views against the film.
Though the Supreme Court has now paved the way for the film’s release, the fringe groups claim that they will continue to protest against the release of the film which they allege distorts history.
The film, starring Deepika Padukone, Ranveer Singh and Shahid Kapoor, will now be released across India on 25 January.