The Kerala High Court observed that intolerance to cultural and artistic expressions do not behoove well for a civilized country.

The Court closed a writ petition raising a complaint regarding a scene in a Malayalam film titled 'Antony' wherein a Bible was purportedly used to conceal a firearm.

The Court held that in such cases, it is the duty of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to intervene if a scene is found to violate such essential respect for religious, racial or other groups.

The Bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran observed, “that intolerance to cultural and artistic expressions is not something that behooves well for a civilized country like ours; but if any particular scene is established to be violating the unexpendable respect required to racial, religious or other groups, certainly, it is for the ‘Board’ to intervene and take necessary action”.

Advocate Gigimon Issac appeared for the Petitioner and Advocate Girish Kumar V appeared for the Respondent.

The petitioner, identifying as a citizen of India and a follower of Christianity, raised a complaint regarding a scene in a Malayalam film titled 'Antony'. In a scene, the Bible was purportedly used to conceal a firearm, which the petitioner perceived as denigrating the Christian faith. Seeking injunctive relief against the release of the movie without removing this scene, the petitioner urged action by the CBFC.

The petitioner argued that the portrayal of the Bible in such a manner undermines the integrity of Christianity. However, during the proceedings, it was revealed that the scene had been blurred pending litigation at the request of the film's producer. As a result, the book's identity as a Bible cannot be discerned, leading the Central Government Counsel to advocate for the dismissal of the petition.

The Court noted that that intolerance towards cultural and artistic expressions contradicts the values of a civilized nation. The Court observed that if a specific scene was found to disrespect racial, religious, or other groups, it is the responsibility of the Board to intervene. As the problematic scene has already been addressed, albeit at the producer's request to avoid controversy, the Court disposed of the writ petition without issuing any additional directives.

Accordingly, the Court disposed of the Petition.

Cause Title: Joji Varghese v State Of Kerala (2024:KER:8367)


Petitioner: Tom Thomas and Tobias Togi Mathew Advocates.

Respondent: Rajeesh V. R., R. Sudheer, K. N. Rajani and R. Pratheesh Advocates.

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