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Posts tagged ‘freedom of expression’

VISWAROOPAM & Intolerance!

VISWAROOPAM is a Trilingual movie by Kamal Haasan’s brother and Kamal Haasan himself is said to be cast in the lead. But the Thamizh version of the movie VISWAROOPAM has been prohibited from being screened by orders passed by each Disrtict Collector under section 144 of the CrPC, prohibiting the theatre owners from screening the movie VISWAROOPAM in any of the cinema halls in Tamizhnadu!


But why? Simple, there are groups advocating any IDEA at any given point of time. To collect people and bring them to the streets and organize a protest is not very difficult in Tamizhnadu. So there were a few Muslim organizations which have alleged that the Movie “portrays Muslims in a poor light” therefore they objected to the movie being screened in Tamizhnadu. There have been other Muslim organizations which claim themselves as moderates and have protested against the prohibitory orders against the screening of VISWAROOPAM. So here we have two groups from the same community which have protested, one for suppressing a ‘perceptional portrayal’ the other is for ‘freedom of creative expression’!

DEMOCRACY merely provides for a mechanism to elect Legislators for passing Legislations and also to form a Government, so that the cabinet becomes responsible to the Assembly or the Parliament, as the case may be. This makes a Prime Minister or a Chief Minister the Chief executive of the state machinery. But the state machinery is much bigger and gives continuity to the Administration more than the elected legislature or the cabinet. The POLICY could be changed by the legislature, or the CABINET could oversee if the implementation is carried out by the state machinery – which is within the powers of the executive. But unfortunately the Executive’s postings are decided by a Minister of the Cabinet. This ensures that the Cabinet gets its will enforced through the hapless executive!

In the instant case, since each District Collector in Tamizh Nadu, has issued separate PROHIBITORY ORDERS to the individual CINEMA OWNERS, even the movie maker is said NOT TO HAVE ANY LOCUS STANDI TO CHALLENGE THE PROHIBITORY ORDER,  AS THE ORDER IS TO THE CINEMA HALL OWNER AND NOT THE MOVIE MAKER!

What a super fallacy!

There have been enough cases where an ordinary shareholder of a Company could implead himself on issues relating to the company. Likewise,  in the interpretation of Article 21, ‘Life’ has been given an extensive meaning by the Supreme Court of India, therefore a movie maker HAS INALIENABLE RIGHTS WHEN A CINEMA OWNER IS SPECIFICALLY RESTRAINED from screening his movie. What more LOCUS STANDI is required?

Here the reasons cited by the executive is that COMMUNAL HARMONY is likely to be disturbed!

That is merely a PREDICTION of the executive, which is threatened by the LEGISLATOR not to use force against a miscreant, even if the miscreant uses unlawful means. The executive is told of consequences which he would have to face, if the electorate is troubled- as the electorate’s whim is of more consequence for a legislator than ORDER through enforcement of LAW!

This being the case,  PRESCRIPTIONS by all and sundry that the VICTIM should be modest and not excite the criminality of the OFFENDER is freely given by legislators and Godmen! In Nirbhaya’s case people had the gall to tell that women should be modestly clad, not go out in the dark late etc. etc. instead of realizing their own duties.

In the matter of VISWAROOPAM, the Film Board of Certification has certified the worthiness of the movie to be screened, so from where does the Tamizhnadu government get its right to thwart its screening by issuing prohibitory orders?

Simple, the List II of the 7th Schedule lists cinemas and gambling houses under the State list and therefore the State govt is emboldened to restrain the cinema owners and are in no way restricting the movie maker. Surely PERVERSE.

Next, if an artiste cannot express his or her views and feelings, where is the freedom of speech and expression? It is the FEAR OF THE CRIMINAL ELEMENTS which makes the government suppress these legitimate creative expressions.

Let us resolve that we become refined enough to tolerate whatever others may express creatively and if we want to retaliate, let us retaliate through creative means and not make FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION a casualty.

The Government instead of predicting criminal consequences should equip itself to deal with such FEAR PURVEYING  elements with an iron hand.


What is most interesting is that to ensure PUBLIC ORDER or MORALITY the State Governments have been banning books whenever in the perceptions of the  GOVERNMENT  allowing the sale/publication of the books might prove to be deleterious to the interests of PUBLIC ORDER or MORALITY.

The Constitution of India guarantees freedom of expression subject to certain limitations as under:-

Article 19

(1) All citizens shall have the right-
(a) to freedom of speech and expression;

(2) Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause (1) shall affect the operation of any existing law, or prevent the State from making anylaw, in so far as such law imposes reasonable restrictions on the exercise of the right conferred by the said sub-clause in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India,the security
of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order,
decency or morality, or in relation to contempt of court, defamation
or incitement to an offence.

The sections invoked by the police to charge persons under the offences that fall foul of the Fundamental Right mentioned above are Sections 153A and 295A of the Indian Penal Code.

The police, which is in-charge of booking persons under the above sections, does not find out if all the ingredients  that make up an offence are fulfilled before charging them. They want to take action immediately so as to ensure that the persons are taken into custody so that no accusations are made against them, and then released by the Magistrate for want of evidence. It is a FEUDAL SCENARIO!! Why should a man be arrested, when the basic ingredients that form an offence are not available? and why should the magistrate issue subpoena for the person still at large, to appear before him when he himself could come to a conclusion that prima-facie the ingredients to the offence have not been made out?

For example, the Magistrate who could throw out the case at the outset, issued summons for the appearance of M.F.Hussain, the renowned painter, merely because his portrayal of a Hindu Goddess was in the nude. Thereby he had offended the sentiments of the public at large. To my mind, a portrayal of a God or a Goddess is assumed to be a portrayal, only so long as the portrayal reflects our understanding of that God or Goddess. If for example, as long as Jesus is portrayed on the cross with a halo and certain features that are normally construed as “DIVINE”, it needs to be considered a portrayal of Jesus. But if a pervert who wants to see Jesus in the nude and portrays Jesus, which is apparently obscene, no Christian OUGHT to feel offended. As that portrayal is nothing but an evil fulmination of a perverse mind. Maybe someone who  wanted to have a portrayal of Jesus in the nude might have paid the artist a hefty sum. That need not affect a Christian’s  position or poise.

Here an Artist had portrayed the figure of a goddess in the nude, ignoring the sentiments of the Hindus. He had no doubt offended the sentiments of the Hindus, but as evolved Hindus, should we not display our class, by ignoring the evil fulminations of a perverse mind and get on with life instead of making him a martyr? I think we should. Hussain had not paused to consider to see his mother in the nude- when he as an atheist, either doesn’t have a mother, or as a person born into Islam, is emboldened to strip others’ mothers!! If at all he had a right, it must have been expressed like Salman Rushdie. He should have done an artistic piece on the Prophet Mohammed, or of the faith to which he either belongs or was born into!!

The second example is Dan Brown’s DA VINCI CODE, where his pseudo history forwarded the story that Jesus was married to Mary Magdalene and that she bore the child of Jesus etc. etc. The Christians were flabbergasted! They were fuming at the re-invention that Dan Brown had hashed. The authorities were eager to ban the book. To what effect? Does one quell perverse ideas through suppression? NO. Any idea has to be allowed to run its full course. Like a virus it has to be incorporated and sufficient immunity built against it, so that the next generation is easy with such ideas, and moves forward without any alarm.

Some of the so called artists want to do things that attract attention within their own life time. They are not sure of their own creation. Further the so called art that they create, is nothing but an extension of an existing IDEA. There is neither refinement to it, nor an elevation to it. That cheap art is meant to sensationalize and hog the limelight for a day and fade away in TIME, not even lasting till this generation, for good reasons.

When such is the case, should the Government use the tools at its possession to ban books that they claim might hinder public order or morality/decency? I guess not.

We in India should not use the oppressive tools left behind by the British, which have mostly been abandoned in the developed countries. And more so, when the reasons given to restrain the RIGHTS granted to an Individual by the constitution, is based on  flimsy grounds.

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