CHENNAI: The Madras High Court Friday stayed an FIR against director A R Murugadoss of Vijay-starrer ‘Sarkar’, observing that seeking an undertaking from filmmakers to not criticise government policies and to apologise for such scenes in movies was equal to threatening the creators.
Justice Anand Venkatesh, before whom Murugadoss’ petition seeking to quash the FIR came up, heard arguments of Public Prosecutor A Natarajan who said there were objectionable scenes in the movie like criticising the freebies distributed by the government.
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The judge noted that the Censor Board had already issued a certificate to the film and sought to know how a case could be filed disregarding freedom of speech. Films should be seen only as films, he observed.
When the public and fans have viewed the film, how can an FIR be filed based on a petition moved by an individual, the judge asked. To seek an undertaking from film-makers to not criticise government policies and ask them to apologise for such scenes was equal to threatening the creators, the judge said.
He then stayed the FIR and posted the matter after six weeks.
Murugadoss had moved the High Court on December 12, seeking to quash a case filed against him over certain scenes in ‘Sarkar’ that were critical of the welfare schemes of the ruling AIADMK.
The police have registered an FIR under various sections of the IPC, including 153 (Wantonly giving provocation with intent to cause riot) and 153A(1)(a) (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, language etc.) against the director.
The case was registered on a complaint by G Devarajan, who objected to some scenes that were critical of the government’s distribution of freebies such as grinders and movies.
In his petition, Murugadoss had submitted that no prima facie case was made out against him.
In a free democracy, criticising government policy was not an offence, he had claimed. In fact, it is a fundamental right guaranteed to citizens under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution, he had said.
The director also said that disputed scenes had already been removed by the Board of Film Certification and that no offence as claimed by the complainant was committed by him.
AIADMK workers had staged protests against the film, which released last month, after several ministers took exception to scenes in it criticising welfare schemes and a reference to late chief minister J Jayalalithaa.
Source: The New Indian Express