The Last Word on Aiyaary

Last year, it was claimed before the Bombay High Court that the trailers of The State v. Jolly LL.B 2 projected the Indian Judiciary and the Indian Legal System in a derogatory manner. The Court found there was a prima facie case of Contempt of Court. It constituted a three-member committee (out of which two members were lawyers) to watch the film, and submit their report.

The Bom HC’s ‘Legitimization of Special Committees to Review Movies’ gave a fillip to CBFC to invite Royals and Historians to review Padmavaat. Even more recently, the Board took suggestions from competent authorities of the Army, as a ‘measure of caution’ before the release of Aiyaary.

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If the CBFC can solicit such suggestions, the Court of Future can be expected to set up further Special Committees as and when the Board fails to act. Thus, jurists will vet courtroom dramas, policemen will vet murder mysteries and any period piece would have to meet a historian’s scrutiny.

The SC’s observation in Adarsh Co-operative Housing Society Ltd. v. Union of India, [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 129 of 2018], is telling:

“There can be no shadow of doubt that the Censor Board can grant a certificate and in the said decision making process, it can also consult the persons who can assist it to arrive at the condign conclusion… The grant of certificate by the CBFC, after consulting with the authorities of the Army, should dispel any apprehension…”

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Real v. Reel

It is of curiosity, Senior Advocate, Mr. Sanjay R. Hegde argued that Aiyaary has projected the Petitioner Society in an unacceptable manner, that is likely to have some impact on the litigations which are pending apart from affecting the reputation of the members of the society; The members of the society have built a reputation which is very dear to their life and if the film is allowed to be released, the same shall destroy the established reputation and the posterity will remember the image projected in the film but not the real image which the members have; Though freedom of speech and expression should not be curtailed, yet the Supreme Court, on certain occasions, has protected the image and reputation of the individuals by giving priority to the image of the person in society, like in Devidas Ramachandra Tujlapurkar.

The Chief Justice has explained Devidas rests on the facts depicted therein and no more.

“It is necessary to clarify here that in the said case, the question was with regard to “poetic license”… The controversy travelled to this Court as the Trial Court had framed charges under Section 292 IPC against the Appellants and the High Court had declined to interfere… The Court did not adjudicate upon the entire controversy as the author of the poem had not challenged the order… The Court concluded by leaving it to the poet to put his defense at the trial… The Court further opined that the view of the High Court pertaining to the framing of charge under Section 292 IPC cannot be said to be flawed… The reliance placed on the above-mentioned judgment by Mr. Hegde, Learned Senior Counsel, does not render any assistance. The law laid down in the said case rests on the facts depicted therein.”

It has been said of Devidas before: “The vagueness and conceptual slippages rife throughout this Judgement leave it unclear how much of an impact it will have doctrinally… the Judgement is incorrect, productive of great public mischief, and ought to be overruled the first chance the Supreme Court gets.”