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Mohalla Assi: Delhi HC Directs Censor Board To Certify Film; Quashes 9 Out Of 10 Cuts [Read Judgment]

The Delhi High Court, on Monday, directed the Censor Board to award the movie ‘ Mohalla Assi ‘ with an ‘A’ certificate and quashed 9 out of the 10 cuts proposed by the Board.

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva was hearing a Petition filed by Crossword Entertainment Private Limited, which had challenged an order passed in November last year by the Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), wherein the movie had been denied a certificate for exhibition.

The movie is based on the popular Hindi Novel, ‘Kashi Ka Assi’, by Mr. Kashinath Singh. It is supposed to be a satire on the globalization of Banaras and the challenges that the city and its culture may face due to sweeping changes brought in by liberalization.

The movie had, however, been denied certification by the Central Board of Film Certification in April last year, observing that it was “full of abusive words, derogatory remarks against a particular community, inflammatory speeches, political linkups, sentiments are hurting for a particular local area, abusive words against women, hence refused for certification as it may hurt the feelings of community, law and order problem etc.”

The Petitioner had then filed an Appeal before the FCAT, which suggested 10 cuts and agreed to review the film once the modifications are carried out.

The Court, at the outset, referred to several judicial precedents to examine the legal position with regard to certification of films, keeping in view the dynamics of the society and the reasonable restrictions on the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression.

It then examined the proposed cuts and quashed nine out of ten recommendations, observing, “…when the subject film is examined in the light of the principles for examination of the film as a whole, the alleged offending scenes do not militate against the central theme of the film rather, they aid in conveying the message behind the predominant theme of the film.”

It, however, upheld the deletion of a cuss word that is used by a Panditji against a man dressed as Lord Shiva, opining, the word spoken by him or to him could offend the religious sentiments of some sections of the society. It is observed that the said word is not necessary for the central theme of the film. The said word in the scene, therefore should be deleted, muted or bleeped.” 

The Court also upheld the direction to incorporate a disclaimer at the beginning of the movie for a minimum of 10 seconds. Such inclusion, it opined, “does not warrant any interference as it does not prejudice the petitioner in any manner”.

Read the Judgment Here

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