Mere Reference To Homosexuality Or Sexual Acts Not Obscene Or Vulgar: Kerala HC [Read Judgment]

Mere Reference To Homosexuality Or Sexual Acts Not Obscene Or Vulgar: Kerala HC [Read Judgment]


Kerala High Court Asks Censor Board To Review Decision To Ban Jayan Cherian’s ‘Ka Bodyscapes’.

It said that by just looking at one or two scenes or expressions in the film, it cannot be said that the film offends religious sentiments or that it is vulgar and obscene.


Setting aside an order by censor board banning a film, the High Court of Kerala in Jayan Cherian vs. Union of India & ors., has held that mere reference to homosexuality and masturbation of women may not amount to obscenity or vulgarity.

The high court observed that it is the right of a film maker to make and exhibit his film, as it is part of his fundamental right of Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

Justice P.B. Suresh Kumar, directing the revising committee to reconsider its decision, said looking at one or two scenes or expressions in the film, it cannot be said that the film offends religious sentiments or that it is vulgar and obscene.

Jayan Cherian, producer-cum-director of feature film Ka Bodyscapes, had approached the high court challenging the decision of censor board refusing certification to the film.

According to the censor board committee, the film contains scenes that promote gay and homosexuality, nudity that contains vital parts of the male nude body and there were many vulgar scenes and dialogues throughout the film, which contravenes Para 2 (vii) of the guidelines that provides that films for public exhibition shall not contain scenes offending human sensibilities by vulgarity, obscenity or depravity.

Further contention on the part of the board was that the film contains scenes that ridicule, insult and humiliate Hindu religion.

With regard to submission that certain scenes in the film depicts Hindu religion in bad light, the court observed that, if that be the case, there is no need to ban the exhibition of the film altogether, for the objectionable scenes could be deleted or modified.

The court also held that mere reference to homosexuality and masturbation of women may not amount to obscenity or vulgarity, and only if the entire theme is disclosed, the question whether the reference to homosexuality and masturbation of women would amount to vulgarity or obscenity can be ascertained.

Justice Suresh Kumar also said some persons may hold an orthodox or conservative view in matters like this, but that by itself is not sufficient to come to the conclusion that the contents of the film are contemptuous of religious groups.

When the respondents take the most extreme step of banning the exhibition of the film, allegedly made spending approximately Rs 1 crore, according to me, an order in the nature of one impugned is far from satisfactory, the judge said.

The Court also observed: “After all, film making is a creative work. If freedom to express one's ideas is not conceded, there will not be any creativity at all. Looking at one or two scenes or expressions in the film, it cannot be said that the film offends religious sentiments or that it is vulgar and obscene.”

Read the Judgment here.


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