Court passes strictures
against Prasar Bharati and orders
telecast of Anand
Father Son and Holy War
New Delhi, 25 August, 2006
Three of Anand Patwardhan's National Award winning documentaries
reached Indian TV audiences only after the judiciary ruled that these films
had to be telecast. Bombay our City (1985) on the plight
of Bombay's poor, In
Memory of Friends (1990) on the fight for communal harmony in
strife-torn Punjab and
Ram Ke Naam (1992) on the Ayodhya crisis, were all telecast
following court orders, years after they were first made. It is now the
turn of Father, Son
and Holy War (1995).
A Chronology of Events
1. Father, Son and Holy War (FSHW) a 2 hour, two part
documentary critique of the male psyche and its relationship to communal
violence, was completed in 1995.
After a legal skirmish with the Central Board of Film Certification
which ended with the film being passed without cuts,
the film went on to win two National Awards in 1996 - Best Social film
film. It also won several international awards and in 2004 was included
by DOX magazine (Europe) amongst the 50 memorable
documentaries in world cinema.
2. After Doordarshan (DD) refused to telecast the film, Patwardhan
filed a writ in the Bombay High Court in 1998 on the grounds
that DD was being arbitrary and had violated his right to Freedom of Expression
and the public's Right to Information.
In February 2001, the Bombay High Court after viewing the film, directed DD
to telecast it within 6 weeks.
3. The supposedly autonomous government constituted broadcast authority, Prasar
against this judgment in the Supreme Court. In December
2001 the Supreme Court directed
DD to re-constitute
committee to review
the film within three months. A year passed without DD taking action. Finally
in the face of contempt of court proceedings, DD constituted a screening
committee that included prominent Hindu and Muslim religious leaders with
qualifications. This committee unanimously recommended the telecast stating: "It
is a very good film and must be shown."
4. Prasar Bharati nevertheless rejected the film. Patwardhan then filed
a new writ in the Bombay High Court and in 2003 won a second judgment by
was again ordered to telecast FSHW within two weeks. Prasar Bharati again
appealed the matter in the Supreme Court claiming they could not show the
one part of it had an “A” censor certificate.
5. On July 20, 2006 Justice Lakshmanan and Justice
Panta of the Supreme Court
saw the film and heard submissions from both sides. Prasar Bharati asked for
certain deletions but on 25 August 2006, the judges upheld the High Court order
to telecast the film without cuts. The Honourable Justices
went so far as to pass strictures against DD and Prasar
Bharati. Reprimanding the broadcaster
for finding “flimsy excuses” time and again not to telecast
Patwardhan’s film, the court said:
“This in our view is
highly irrational and is a blatant violation of the right guaranteed
under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution (fundamental right to
speech and expression).’’
Noting the long history of rejection of Patwardhan’s
National award winning films they stated:
are shocked by the observation of the Prasar Bharati that “the
film is not suitable due to unsatisfactory production quality and the
specific to convey."
and further added:
"This behaviour of
DD would justify us in stating that DD is being dictated by rules of malafides
and arbitrariness in taking decisions with regard to the telecast of the
Patwardhan was represented by Advocate P.A. Sebastian in the High Court and
by Advocate Prashant Bhushan in the Supreme Court.
complete Supreme Court Judgement
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