We Should Be Very Careful In Staying Exhibition Of Films, Convince The High Court: SC Refuses To Entertain Plea Against 'The Kerala Story'
"We should be very careful in staying exhibition of films", said a Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud while declining to entertain a petition, on mentioning, against the release of the movie "The Kerala Story". The Bench also said that ultimately the markets decide the fate of a film.
Senior Advocate Huzefa Ahmadi mentioned the plea post lunch before the Bench also comprising Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwalla. He told the Court that as per the liberty given by the Supreme Court, they went to the Chief Justice of the Kerala High Court, who assigned the cases to a bench that was to hear the cases. "Today we were told that the Bench could only take up the matter tomorrow. The release is scheduled for tomorrow, so we went back to Chief Justice and requested to assign a bench today. Unfortunately, the judges expressed their inability to sit today", he submitted.
He also submitted that a hearing be granted today. He submitted that they moved the High Court immediately after the order was passed yesterday by the Apex Court. "We assumed that it will be heard today", he submitted.
Advocate Amit Naik appearing for the makers of the movie submitted that there is a petition listed today afternoon before the Madras High Court seeking revocation of the certificate granted to the film. He submitted that an interim order has been passed by the Kerala High Court in one matter and handed over that order, which posts the matter to Friday.
"Oh, so the Kerala High Court has passed an interim order declining interim relief?", asked Chief Justice Chandrachud.
Huzefa Ahmadi then submitted that it is not in his petition.
"It must have been the same bench before whom the Chief Justice assigned the matter today", the CJI remarked and asked for a copy of the order.
"This is a detailed order", the CJI said after reading the order of the Kerala High Court. Ahmadi then submitted that the petition before the HIugh Court was against the teaser.
"Right or wrong, the effect of this order is that there is going to be no stay on the release of the film", the CJI said, adding that the Madras High Court has also been moved. "They have applied their mind", the CJI added.
Huzefa Ahmadi then submitted that he must get a hearing and that his petition has not been heard.
"There cant be five bites or three bites of the same cherry", the CJI said. He added that the Bench has not simply said "SO to Monday", "here they have applied their mind", he said.
When Ahmadi submitted that the writ was against the teaser, the Court said that the relief is the same. Huzefa Ahmadi kept insisting that he be given a hearing. He said that the Chief Justice is on leave and is unable to ask for another bench. "There must be an acting chief justice", the CJI said.
"Look at it from the point of view of the film producer. How many times does he face challenges? He has faced one challenge, the Bench has said no. It has passed a detailed order", the CJI asked.
Huzefa Ahmadi submitted that they were told by the High Court that they can't force a Bench if it is not sitting, adding that the Court is on vacation and there is no court they can approach. "If today the Court is persuaded by its earlier interim order, it will not grant me relief. But let me have my day in Court", he submitted. "Without liberty, they will not entertain", he added.
"Things would have been very different, had that order not been there", said Justice Narasimha, referring to the interim order of the High Court.
Huzefa Ahmadia also said that he is not merely seeking a disclaimer, but is challenging the certificate granted to the film.
The CJI then said that the petitioner made a mistake in challenging a certificate by filing an IA in a hate speech matter. "You should have gone under 226 right away, now this contrived urgency is...", the CJI said.
"At the end of the day, somebody invests their money, the actors who have acted in the film have dedicated their labour. We should be very careful about staying films. I am very very careful about staying the exhibition of films. Ultimately the markets decide, if it is not up to mark..", the CJI said.
"We are not giving you liberty specifically", the CJI said adding that it happens regularly during vacation.
"Tomorrow at 10.15, you all appear before the bench, make your submissions. Try to convince the Bench", Justice Pardiwala said.
"The CBFC has released the film. The Kerala High Court declined to stay the film. Yesterday we said we are not entertaining a petition. Three steps have been completed", the CJI said.
Yesterday, the Apex Court had asked the parties who approached the Court against the movie to approach the Kerala High Court first, since it is already seized of a plea against the release of the movie.
The Kerela High Court on Tuesday refused to pass any interim order and sought instructions from the Central Board of film certification and has listed the matter on Friday, on which date the movie is scheduled to be released.