Three cheers for Justice Raghu Ram of the Andhra Pradesh High Court
Rejecting the (state government’s arguments in support of the ban on The Da Vinci Code), Mr. Justice Raghu Ram, in his 48-page judgment, said, “The Constitution does not confer or tolerate such individualised hyper-sensitive private censor intrusion into and regulation of guaranteed freedom of others.”
Tracing the concept of freedom of speech and expression and its necessity for the blossoming of the human mind, he noted that the Censor Board had cleared the film with appropriate conditions. A film was not like a billboard or hoarding that involuntarily affected innocent passersby. Those who purchased tickets to see the film made a conscious decision, and the state had no role to stop the screening.
Mr. Justice Raghu Ram said the authorities who passed the ban order had not even seen the film. The officer “mechanically certified” the veto of a few objectors rather than arriving at a decision based on informed satisfaction. This was “arbitrary, casual and [a] wholly irrational exercise of a very sensitive and responsible executive power, namely the regulation of a cherished, valued and guaranteed fundamental freedom of expression.” [The Hindu]
The lesson cost the government a mere Rs 22,500 (US$488). But a nice slap on the wrist, no? Or will they now try and amend the Constitution?