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Home Opinions Vishwaroopam vs Padmavati - how courts 'respected' Muslim groups' ability to riot

Vishwaroopam vs Padmavati – how courts ‘respected’ Muslim groups’ ability to riot

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Krishna Baalu Iyer
Columnist, poet, Activist-Heritage lover, Ancient Indian History, Architecture Twitter @IndusSpirit

The Right-wing activists have on several occasions exposed the Left lenient media’s fake and fabricated news, which were mainly targeting Hindus, BJP, Modi and many other Hindu outfits. Their dubious agenda of discrediting the Hindus, BJP, Modi and other Hindu outfits were all well-known facts by now.

Such aversion, hate, slander are all a typical characteristic of the so-called liberal media. Learned Hindus have been fighting these wrongs constantly and exposing the dubious agenda of the anti-Hindu media, particularly on Social Media. So far so good. However, when we turn back to our Judiciary, we normally anticipate a fair and impartial justice, that is not influenced by media’s mind game and instigation.

The recent Supreme Court’s observations while disposing of, some petitions against the film Padmavati is causing serious concern for Hindus in particular. The observations made by the Supreme Court sounds like admonishing the Hindus with impunity. It also gives an impression that the Hindu community is a ‘contemptible’ lot when compared to the rest of non-Hindus in the country. This feeling is particularly arising in our minds at this juncture when we recollect the Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam controversy.

Both the films Padmavati and Vishwaroopam ran into similar trouble due to protests by the respective affected groups. In Vishwaroopam, the Muslim community was hurt and in Padmavati, it’s Hindu community that was hurt. The grievance was too similar. In Vishwaroopam the complaint was that the Muslims were depicted in a bad light as it portrayed Muslims as Terrorists. In Padmavati, the most revered Queen Padmavati was revealed in a disgraceful manner. Both movies ran into trouble well before the release.

It is another issue that media then was cowardly silent, and left Kamal Haasan to fend himself but overtly reactive now on the movie Padmavati. Since the film Vishwaroopam had dragged the Muslim community into fore, the media chose not to cry foul from the rooftop. Now the film, Padmavati has fuelled unrest among Hindus particularly among the Rajput community, the media is now overactive and mean-spirited in its reaction.

A look at what the Madras High Court had observed on the movie Vishwaroopam and the Supreme Court’s view on Padmavati and the petitioners.

It all started on 23rd January 2013 when 20 Muslim organisations lead by M H Jawahirullah, MLA and president of Tamil Nadu Muslim Munnetra Kazhagam submitted a memorandum to Tamil Nadu Home Secretary seeking a ban on the movie Vishwaroopam on the ground that the movie had portrayed Muslims in a bad light. A day before, a  memo was also submitted by the same group to Chennai Police Commissioner, seeking a ban to be imposed on the movie. It is important to note here that, by this time the movie Vishwaroopam was cleared by CBFC and was about to be released in a couple of day’s in theatres across Tamil Nadu and rest of the country.

The striking aspect of Tamil Nadu Muslims protest against the movie was in support of global Muslims but not against TN Muslims or Indian Muslims, as the story in the movie revolve around Global Islamic Terrorism. The Muslim outfits continued protesting against the movie Vishwaroopam even after Kamal Haasan arranged a special screening for the members of the outfits.

Within hours after filing the petition, Tamil Nadu Government had issued the ban order and the Police chief cautioned all District Collectors for a possible explosion of law and order situation in Tamil Nadu. Pertinent to note here, that the ban order was issued under Sec 144 of the Indian Penal Code. All precautionary measures were taken to prevent any riots.

Predictably Kamal Haasan had approached the Madras High Court against this gag order of TN Government. A single Judge initially stayed the ban order of the Tamil Nadu Government. Later a two Judges bench had overturned the stay order.

Justice K. Venkataraman had on January 24 directed that the release be postponed till January 28. He saw a screening of the film on January 26. Following are some excerpt from media reports:

“Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam suffers yet another setback as the Madras High Court stayed the release of the film in Tamil Nadu till February 6, and asked the actor to file a counter with the single judge bench”

“Justice Venkataraman orally observed that in the meantime, all possibilities to arrive at an amicable settlement could be explored. The nation’s unity was more important than individuals”

Now see how the Hon’ble Supreme Court reacted to the pleas of Hindu outfits when approached seeking a  ban on the movie Padmavati. Excerpt from media reports follow:

For the third time this month, the Supreme Court turned down a request to ban “Padmavati” and said, in a rebuke to Chief Ministers and others who have spoken out against the film, “those holding public offices should not comment on such issues.”

On Vishwaroopam, not a word was spoken by the Hon’ble Judges when Tamil Nadu Government had outright banned a censor cleared movie through an executive order citing Law and Order situation under section 144 of the IPC. Also, the judiciary itself upheld the state’s ban and kept postponing the release of the movie.

Also, to note the oral orders of the Justice Venkataraman hinting an amicable settlement to be reached in the meantime (stay period). Justice Venkataraman further expressed concern over ‘nation’s unity’. These expressions of the Judges came when a clear and present danger of a riot situation was foretold in Tamil Nadu, in the event of the movie hitting the screens across the state.

On Padmavati, the Supreme Court judges reiterated that it is the prerogative of the national censor board to review the film and make a decision on whether it is suitable for screening.

“When the matter is pending the consideration of the CBFC (Central Board of  Film Certification), how can persons holding public offices comment on whether CBFC should issue a certificate or not? That will prejudice the decision of the CBFC,” the judges said.

In the case of Vishwaroopam, it was a censor cleared movie that was banned by the state, that was upheld by the Courts and that was held for day’s and ordering Kamal Haasan to defer the release in clear terms.

The Congress MLA was directly involved in the protest against the movie Vishwaroopam, as it was all political and religious heads who denounced the movie heavily.

Conclusion 

Judiciary is in the process of setting a risky precedent. The Hon’ble Supreme Court’s observations on Padmavati movie almost came close to censuring the Chief Ministers who had banned the movie, but unfortunately the Madras HC, did not even examine the ethical grounds of the TN Government’s outright ban order on the movie Vishwaroopam but went on upholding the ban and directing the film’s release to be deferred time and again.

The Hon’ble Madras HC ought to have questioned the State Government to maintain law and order situation as it was the duty of any State Government to maintain law and order, and should have felt that a movie cannot be banned fearing riots. Otherwise, it would mean that a riot tendency of a particular community is legitimised and an accepted phenomenon under the Indian Constitution.

So, It is setting a dangerous precedent. The Indian Muslims who are equal citizens of India on par with Hindus cannot be treated uniquely and their intimidation with their ‘riot’ tendency cannot be tolerable.
Hence the present ‘Padmavati’ row, is right occasion for the legal fraternity to fight strongly against this unprecedented approach of the Judiciary. Any precedent set by any previous judgments on the ‘riot’ tendency of any particular community, needs to be quashed urgently.

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Krishna Baalu Iyer
Columnist, poet, Activist-Heritage lover, Ancient Indian History, Architecture Twitter @IndusSpirit
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