oppn parties Should We Disband the CBFC?

News Snippets

  • SC says it will revisit its definition of 'Hindutva' in the light of growing hate speeches
  • Indigo reduces the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra to three months after an inquiry committee finds that it was a Level 1 offense not meriting a 6-month ban
  • Akali Dal MP Naresh Gujral says Delhi Police did not act on his phone call asking them to help 16 people trapped in riot-hit areas
  • AAP councillor Tahir Hussain, booked for murder and arson, says he is being framed
  • New HC bench allows the Delhi Police plea that the situation is no conducive to the filing of FIRs and also allows the Centre to become a party to the case
  • Justice S Muralidhar of the Delhi High Court, who was part of the bench that pulled up the Delhi Police for not filing FIRs against BJP leaders for hate speeches, transferred to Punjab HC
  • Two Special Investigation Teams (SITs) of Crime Branch in Delhi Police have been formed under DCP Joy Tirkey and DCP Rajesh Deo. The teams will immediately take over the investigations of the cases related to northeast Delhi violence. Both the teams will be under the supervision of BK Singh, additional commissioner of police (Crime Branch)
  • Sporadic violence was reported from riot-hit areas in the capital as the intensity of the madness seems to have abated. The death toll has risen to 37
  • Special DG (Training) in CRPF, S N Shrivastava, appointed special commissioner (law & order) in Delhi Police in order to quell the violence. He is also expected to take over as chief of Delhi police once Amulya Patnaik's term ends on February 29
  • Curfew and shoot at sight orders reportedly in force in some areas, but Delhi Police HQ does not issue a notice for the same
  • The Central government has pressed paramilitary forces to control the riots in Delhi
  • Mobs in Delhi target journalists, check them for religious identity and snatch equipment
  • 13 people deal until now in one of the worst spells of violence in Delhi
  • Violence in Delhi shows no signs of abating with fresh areas in the north-eastern part of the capital coming under its grip
  • Delhi High Court says DGCA was wrong in approving the flying ban on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra by airlines other than Indigo for his alleged misbehavior with TV anchor Arnab Goswami aboard an Indigo flight
Delhi Police file a case for murder and arson against Aam Aadmi Party councillor Tahir Hussain. Hussain is believed to have played a role in the murder of IB staffer Ankit Sharma whose body was found in Jafrabad
oppn parties
Should We Disband the CBFC?

By Sunil Garodia
First publised on 2017-11-28 21:07:15

About the Author

Sunil Garodia Editor-in-Chief of indiacommentary.com. Current Affairs analyst and political commentator. Writes for a number of publications.
The latest to join the “ban Padmavati” wagon is Nitish Kumar. The film has been banned for release in Bihar. Why are state chief ministers jumping the gun and banning the movie’s release even before the CBFC has certified it? Is it to get into the good books of Hindutva/upper caste (read Rajputs) votaries? Or is it to show that they are “holier” than others? In Nitish’s case, it seems to be the latter. In his earlier avatar as a ‘secular’ leader, Nitish would have made Padmavati tax-free in Bihar. But with his alignment with the BJP, equations have changed and so has his tune.

Really, this is taking things too far. We have a film certification authority in the country that certifies films for release in the whole country. Even before that authority has had a chance to view the film and pronounce its decision, we have states banning the film’s release purely on rumours and hearsay. What does this mean for democracy? It means that like the Congress of yore, the BJP also does not have any patience for institutions and rule of law. The Congress used to ban works of art based on its secular ideology, the BJP does so based on Hindutva leanings. There is not much difference between the two.

If Salman Rushdie’s “Shame” was banned to cater to the Muslim vote bank, Padmavati is being banned to cater to the Hindu vote bank. Is there much of a difference? The liberals are yelling for the head of Modi for intolerance but they were conspicuously silent when Shame was banned or when Taslima Nasreen was hounded out of Kolkata. Mamata Banerjee might gain brownie points by going against the Padmavati ban, but Taslima has done well to remind her of the days when she banned her work under pressure from Muslim fundamentalists and made her feel unwelcome in Kolkata. The Left liberals and the Hindu Right are actually the two sides of the same coin. They raise their voice when it suits their agenda and keep mum when it does not.

Both sides care a hoot about legal niceties or institutions and are prone to ban works of art when their vote banks pressurize them. The Supreme Court has, thrice this month, refused to ban the release of the movie, pointed out the sole jurisdiction of the CBFC to certify the film for release and has rebuked the chief ministers of states that have announced the ban for their peremptory action. But this does not deter politicians cock a snook the courts and the judiciary. Their hands are strengthened by the law which says that the executive can ban a work of art under Article 19(2) of the Constitution. Obviously, there cannot be unrestricted freedom of expression in a country like India. But the restrictions should come after watching the film. And who is authorized for this? Not the chief ministers but the CBFC. So shouldn’t politicians let institutions do their job and avoid trying to be current heroes to vested interests?