Justice Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Justice Shree Prakash Singh Allahabad HC (Lucknow)
The Allahabad High Court on Friday criticised makers of Adipurush for the shameful and vulgar depiction of certain characters in the film. [Kuldeep Tiwari and another v. Union of India and others]
The film’s director Om Raut, producer Bhushan Kumar and dialogue writer Manoj Muntashir have been ordered to appear in person before the Court on July 27, along with personal affidavits explaining their bonafides.
The Court has also ordered the constitution of an expert committee to re-examine whether Adipurush is true to the Ramayana, which appears to be its main source of inspiration.
A Bench of Justices Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Shree Prakash Singh passed the order in public interest litigation (PIL) petitions calling for a ban on the film.
The Court slammed the filmmakers for not being sensitive to the holiness and sanctity of the characters, for its substandard dialogues and cheap language.
“So many scenes of the film depicting Devi Sita are disgraceful to her very character and some scenes depicting wife of Vibhishana are prima-facie obscene also which are absolutely unwarranted and uncalled for. Even depiction of Ravan, his Lanka etc. is so ridiculous and cheap. Those facts have been narrated in both the PILs properly enclosing the relevant material,” the order stated.
The Bench proceeded to emphasise that individuals cannot engage in actions that go against decency, morality and public order under the garb of freedom of speech and expression.
“We are pained noticing the fact that while making such film, the film makers and the dialogue writer have not taken care of feelings and emotions of public at large depicting the characters and dialogues in shameful and vulgar manner knowingly well that those Icons/ Lords e.g. Lord Rama, Devi Sita and Lord Hanuman are worshiped by the large number of persons of the society,” it observed.
The Censor Board has not discharged its legal duty while issuing the certificate to release the film, the order said.
Moreover, the Court opined that the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had also failed to take timely action following the film’s release, despite significant public unrest.
“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,” the order stated.
It also took note of the petitioners’ grievance that the film was not an isolated case. There have been previous instances where films have depicted Hindu Gods, Goddesses, and icons in a disrespectful and offensive manner, the Court was told.
This led the Bench to opine that stringent measures are required to ensure that such incidents do not occur again.
“If such type of illegal and immoral acts of the film makers are not checked at the earliest some more film may likely to be produced touching sensitive aspects of other religions besides Hindu religion. Hence, some stringent and deterrent action by the Competent Authority of the Central Government would be required in the present case in the interest of public at large of the country,” the judges observed.
The Court, however, decided to grant an opportunity to the concerned authorities to address the grievances raised, before any coercive order is issued.
It proceeded to order for the constitution of an expert committee within a week to examine the issue, which would include at least five members.
The members should be well-versed with Valmiki Ramayana, which is said to be the main source of inspiration for the film, as well as Tulsikriti Ramcharit Manas and other religious epics, the Court said.
This committee is to examine “whether the depiction of story of the film of Lord Rama, Devi Sita, Lord Hanuman and Ravan etc. have been depicted in conformity with the Valmiki Ramayana etc.”
The committee has to submit a report before the Court by July 27.
By this date, the Chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has also been ordered to file a report on whether applicable guidelines concerning film exhibition have been followed in allowing the release of Adipurush.
The Court was hearing a plea filed by social activists Kuldeep Tiwari and Bandana Kumar, who have asserted that Adipurush has cast doubts on the integrity of the revered epic Ramayana and has defamed the cultural heritage of Ayodhya as well as the Hindu religion.
Advocates Ranjana Agnihotri, Sudha Sharma and Prince Lenin appeared for the petitioners.
Senior Advocate and Deputy Solicitor General of India SB Pandey, assisted by Advocate Ashwani Kumar Singh, appeared for the Central government and the CBFC.
Additional Advocate General Vinod Kumar Shahi, assisted by Chief Standing Counsel Shailendra Kumar Singh and Additional Chief Standing Counsel Vivek Kumar Shukla represented the State of Uttar Pradesh.