Invalidating the decision of I&B Ministry, The Kerala High Court on Tuesday (25th June), permitted the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary, “Reason” at the ongoing International Documentary and Short Film Festival in Trivandrum. The I&B Ministry had denied permission for the documentary to be screened.
The High Court said that the Centre’s claim cannot be upheld and that the screening is permissible even according to the guidelines framed by the ministry itself. However, Justice Shaji P Chaly, who passed the order, added that the documentary cannot be screened elsewhere, reports Livelaw.in
The film was scheduled to be screened on June 24, however, due to these issues it has been postponed to the last day – June 26th. The ministry had said in its response to the festival organisers that screening Reason could lead to a “law and order issue”.
A 261 minutes long documentary which is divided into eight chapters, Reason sets out to chart what Patwardhan sees as India’s slide away from the complex tumult of a secular democracy towards hardening divisions of power, caste, and religious belief — lines that are enforced increasingly by violence. It also presents a criticism on Hindu terrorist organisations like Sanathan Sanstha and Abhinav Bharat.
Though 161 movies were sent to I&B Ministry for approval, they had singled out Reason claiming that it will affect the law and order situation of the country.
Earlier, in the 2017 edition of the festival, the Ministry had denied exemption to three documentary films, dealing with Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) protests, the unrest in Kashmir, and on the Rohith Vemula issue. The films were later screened after the Academy approached the Kerala High Court.
“It is necessary to mention in this context that our Constitution guarantees not only social and economic justice but also political justice. The freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution would, therefore, include the right to express one’s political views as well. The film is a legitimate and effective medium in which issues of general concern can be treated, subject of course to the reasonable restrictions on grounds set out under Article 19 (2) of the Constitution. The said right includes the right to criticize the policies of the Governments in power also”, the single bench of the Court had then noted, according to livelaw.in