The Delhi High Court recently allowed the unadulterated release of a documentary, based on Kashmir violence, which the Indian censor board had earlier refused to clear. The court cleared Pankaj Butalia’s Textures of Loss, stating that the “right to censor films, shown in whatever form, constitutes a prior restraint,” and that it should “necessarily be reasonable,” reported the Indian Express.
Justice Rajiv Shakdher directed the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to issue a certificate of screening to the movie without deletion of any scenes. Both the CBFC and Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) recommended major cuts in the 61-minute-long documentary. The court’s order came in response to a plea filed by Butalia, who challenged the censor board’s refusal to clear the documentary, the IANS reported.
The documentary features interviews of people, who lost their kin in the conflict and violence in Jammu and Kashmir. It focuses on the events between the years 2005 and 2013, including interviews with people affected by them. Subsequently, the censor board had sought some cuts in the documentary, but Butalia maintained he was merely depicting different opinions.
Some of the cuts that the CBFC and FCAT recommended included angry remarks made by parents of children, who had been killed during the 2010 stone-pelting clashes in Srinagar. They had also instructed Butalia to include a disclaimer at the start of the documentary, reading “All views in the film are personal.”
In addition to this, Butalia was told by the CBFC to delete the words “disproportionate violence” from the description of clashes in the documentary. Despite this, the court has given the documentary a ‘U’ certificate, and given the filmmaker the green light to screen it without any disclaimers. “Unanimity of thought and views is not the test to be employed by censuring authorities in such situations … The response cannot be to ban, mutilate or destroy the work of another, with whom one stridently disagrees,” noted the court of Shakdher.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 28th, 2015.
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