Kodungallur Film Society vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment

 Kodungallur Film Society & Anr. vs Union of India - Supreme Court Important Judgment 2018 - 

On 1st October, 2018, in the case of Kodungallur Film Society & Anr. v. Union of India & Ors. [Writ Petition (Civil) No.330 of 2018], the issue pertaining to “rise in the protests and demonstrations by private entities targeting, amongst others, exhibition of films and social functions and including sections of people, on moral grounds, in particular, using threats and actual violence”, came up for consideration. A three Judge Bench observed that “in addition to being patently illegal and unlawful, such acts of violence highlight a deeper malaise, one of intolerance towards others‘ views which then results in attempts to suppress alternate view points, artistic integrity and the freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India.”

It was held that “in such situations, the State must step in and perform its duty by taking measures to prevent such actions from occurring in the first place, ensuring that law-enforcement agencies exercise their power to bring the guilty parties to book and imposing time-bound and adequate punishment for any lapses." The Bench held that “nobody has the right to become a self-appointed guardian of the law and forcibly administer his or her own interpretation of the law on others, especially not with violent means. Mob violence runs against the very core of our established legal principles since it signals chaos and lawlessness and the State has a duty to protect its citizens against the illegal and reprehensible acts of such groups.”

The Bench observed that “a comprehensive structure will have to be evolved in the respective States so that the issues of accountability and efficiency in curbing incidents of peaceful protests turning into mob violence, causing damage to property including investigation, remedial and punitive measures, are duly addressed.” It was further observed that “while doing so, the directions given by this Court” in In Re: Destruction of Public and Private Properties, Shakti Vahini and Tehseen Poonawalla cases, “must be borne in mind.”

Further, the Bench elucidated/laid out recommendations/directions under various sub-headings, namely, (i) structural and preventive measures; (ii) remedies to minimize, if not extirpate, the impending mob violence; (iii) liability of person causing violence, (iv) responsibility of police officials and (v) compensation. It was however clarified that the said recommendations / directions were “not exhaustive but only to set out broad contour of the measures required to be taken” and were “in addition to the recommendations / directions given” in In Re: Destruction of Public and Private Properties case. The Bench directed that the recommendations “be implemented by the Central and State governments as expeditiously as possible.”


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