Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment
Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2018 -
On 16th February, 2018, in the case of Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society Ltd. v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No. 129 of 2018], the petitioner, a registered society, sought appropriate directions for prohibiting the respondent Nos. 4 to 7 from releasing/ screening/publishing feature film, namely, ‘Aiyaary’ with direct or indirect references to the petitioner society’s land/building/membership. The petitioner contended that the film had projected the society in an unacceptable manner and that was likely to have some impact on the litigations which were pending apart from affecting the reputation of the members of the society.
Taking note of the fact that the film ‘Aiyaary’ has already been given the requisite certificate by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 and the said Board has also taken the suggestions from the competent authorities of the Army as a measure of caution, the Supreme Court observed that “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 Supreme Court further observed that “the doctrine of sub-judice may not be elevated to such an extent that some kind of reference or allusion to a member of a society would warrant the negation of the right to freedom of speech and expression which is an extremely cherished right enshrined under the Constitution. The moment the right to freedom of speech and expression is atrophied, not only the right but also the person having the right gets into a semi coma.” Though “the said right is not absolute but any restriction imposed thereon has to be extremely narrow and within reasonable parameters” and in the case at hand, “the grant of certificate by the CBFC, after consulting with the authorities of the Army, should dispel any apprehension of the members or the society.”
Rejecting the plea that the producer and director of the film be directed to add a disclaimer so that no member of the society would ultimately be affected by the film, the Supreme Court held that “whether there is the necessity of “disclaimer” or not has to be decided by the Censor Board which is the statutory authority that grants the certificate. In fact, when a disclaimer is sought to be added, the principle of natural justice is also attracted. To elaborate, the producer or director is to be afforded an opportunity of hearing. The Court should not add any disclaimer for the asking. Addition of a disclaimer is a different concept altogether. It is within the domain of the authority to grant certificate and to ask the director to add a disclaimer in the beginning of the movie to avoid any kind of infraction of guidelines.”