February 2016 News

Delhi HC Green-lights 'anti-national' Kashmir Film

16 February 2016
Times of India
Abhinav Garg

New Delhi: At a time when views on Kashmir and its violence are triggering heated protests, the Delhi high court has cleared screening of a documentary on the Valley, dubbed anti-national by the government. 'The statements of the persons in the interview were their personal views and the same can neither have any demoralizing effect on the security forces nor can they be termed as anti-national. All that the film seems to depict is the emotions of the persons who lost their dear ones in the violence,' a bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath noted, paving the way for screening of the documentary without cuts, saying the film does not contain objectionable material and deserved issuance of a 'U' certificate for public viewing. In its judgment, the HC quoted Supreme Court's observations that 'Freedom of expression, which is legitimate and constitutionally protected, cannot be held to ransom by an intolerant group of people... open criticism of government policies and operations is not a ground for restricting expression. We must practice tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself.' The HC also acknowledged that filmmaker Pankaj Butalia had no objection to insertion of a disclaimer in the documentary, called 'Textures of Loss'. 'It may be true that the issue of violence in Kashmir is a sensitive topic. However, we do not find any objectionable material in the film in question,' the bench observed on an appeal filed by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the information and broadcasting ministry against the May 2015 order of single judge allowing its screening. The single judge had set aside the decision of the CBFC and film certification appellate tribunal while holding that a 'U' certificate be issued to the film without any deletions. The bench observed that the documentary was of approximately 61 minutes and stated to be based on case studies of the people who were affected by the long-drawn violence in the Kashmir Valley.