The makers of ‘Adipurush’ have moved the Supreme Court challenging the Allahabad High Court’s order dated June 28, wherein the court has sought the personal appearance of the movie’s producer Bhushan Kumar, director Om Raut and dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla.
The petitioners’ counsel mentioned the matter before the Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud. The counsel said, “This is about the movie Adipurush. It is of grave urgency. The producers were summoned by the Allahabad High Court…” However, the CJI asked the counsel to mention the matter tomorrow, as he was about to start a Constitutional Bench hearing.
Allahabad High Court’s June 28 order
On June 28, the Allahabad High Court rapped the makers of the movie ‘Adipurush,’ for hurting the emotions of the public at large by depicting Bhagwan Ram, Mata Sita, Hanuman Ji and other characters from Ramayana in a ‘shameful and disgusting manner’ and as if they are ‘fictional persons’ or ‘comic characters.’
The court’s Division Bench, comprising Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Shree Prakash Singh, directed the Government of India to constitute a committee to ‘revisit’ the certificate issued to the movie. Furthermore, the court directed ‘Adipurush’ director Om Raut and dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir Shukla to appear before the court in person on the next date, while listing the case for the next hearing on July 27, 2023.
“If we will shut our mouths today then you know what will happen? These incidents are increasing day by day. I saw a movie wherein Lord Shankar was shown running with his Trishul in a very funny manner. Now, these things will be showcased?… The filmmakers earn money as films do business…This is going back to back. Something or the other is being done to break the harmony. The producer will have to come in this. Is this a joke?” the court orally remarked.
“Suppose if you make even a short documentary on the Quran, depicting wrong things, then you will see what will happen…However, I may once again clarify that it is not about any one religion. It is by chance that this issue is concerned with Ramayana, otherwise, Court belongs to all religions,” the court added.
The court said that the makers, including dialogue writers, have based the characters on various deities from the epic “without taking care of holiness and sanctity of those characters.” The court further remarked that the dialogues are the movie are substandard and contain “cheap language,” and that the scenes depicting Mata Sita are “disgraceful to her very character.”
“The one who is gentle should be suppressed? Is it so? It is good that it is about a religion, the believers of which did not create any public order problem. We should be thankful. We saw in the news that some people had gone to cinema halls (wherein the movie was being exhibited) and they only forced them to close the hall, they could have done something else as well,” the court said.
The court further said that certain scenes depicting Vibhishana’s wife are “prima-facie obscene” which was absolutely “unwarranted and uncalled for.” The court said that the depiction of Ravan and his Lanka was “ridiculous and cheap.” The court made the aforementioned observations while holding that the PILs filed before it is genuine and within the four corners of the law, as per the rules of the court and the dictums of the Supreme Court.
“Further, it is trite law that in the name of freedom of speech and expression no one can be permitted to do anything which is against the decency or morality or against the public order etc. To us, this film, prima- facie, does not qualify the test as prescribed under Article 19 of the Constitution of India,” the court said in its 12-page order.
The court added that the CBFC should have done something while granting certification to the movie.
“Agar hum log ispar bhi aankh band kar len kyonki yeh kaha jaata hai ki yeh dharm ke log bade sahishnu hain to kya uska test liya jayega? (If we close our eyes on this as well because it is said that people of this religion are very tolerant, so will it be put to a test?),” the court remarked while hearing two PILs against the exhibition and dialogues of the movie.
The court criticised the makers and the dialogue writers for not taking care of the feelings of the public at large, depicting the characters in a “shameful and vulgar manner,” knowing well that the various deities are worshipped by a large number of persons of the society. The court also criticised the Censor Board for not discharging its legal duty while issuing a certificate to release the movie without following the guidelines.
The court also criticised the Government of India’s inaction after the release of the movie, stating that despite having proper mechanisms to suspend or revoke the certificate or to stop the exhibition of the movie.
“It is not fair to ignore the voice of those people who despite being offended seriously after the release of this film but have been maintaining the public order and are following the law and order. Notably, this is not a single film of this type but as per contentions of learned counsel for the petitioners some more films have been produced earlier showing the Hindu Gods /Godess/Icons in a shameful and disguising manner,” said the court.
The court observed that if the “illegal and immoral acts” of the filmmakers are not checked at the earliest, then more movies would be produced touching sensitive aspects of other religions besides Hinduism. Therefore, the Competent Authority under the Government of India must take some “stringent and deterrent action” in the interest of the public at large.
The court said that the Competent Authority should revisit the issue, invoking its powers u/s 6 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952. The court directed that the Government of India should constitute a committee of not less than five experts “well versed with Valmiki Ramayana,” which was claimed to be the main source for the movie, to examine whether the depiction of various deities and characters in the movie are in conformity with Valmiki Ramayana. The court said that the experts must also be well-versed in Tulsikriti Ramcharit Manas and other religious epics.
The committee would also examine whether the picturisation of Mata Sita and Vibhishana’s wife is in conformity with the guidelines, which mandates the Censor Board to ensure no scenes degrading or denigrating female characters, as the coloured photographs enclosed with the petition, indicates that their depiction is prima facie degrading the sanctity of those characters. The court remarked, “Some scenes relating to the wife of Vibhishana in the film are appearing as obscene.”
The court directed that the committee be constituted within a week of the order and that the committee provide its report, based on the court’s directions, within a further period of 15 days. The committee’s report must be filed before the court along with the personal affidavit of the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the court directed.
The court further asked the Chairman of the Board of Film Certification, to file his personal affidavit apprising the court as to whether the guidelines for certification of films for the public exhibition have been followed in its letter and spirit while issuing a certificate to the film ‘Adipurush.’