Any policy of Govt. is subject to public scrutiny: Madras HC Stays Probe Against 'Sarkar' Movie Director

Any policy of Govt. is subject to public scrutiny: Madras HC Stays Probe Against Sarkar Movie Director

If every person, who is not in agreement with the issue projected in the Movie, starts giving complaint against the director and an FIR comes to be registered on each complaint, it will sound the death knell to the mother of all other liberties namely; the freedom of speech and expression

The Madras High Court has stayed the investigation in criminal cases registered against director of the movie "Sarkar".

FIR was registered against the movie director A.R. Murugadoss for an offence under Section 153, 153 A(1) (a), 505 (1)(b) & 505 (1) (c) on the basis of a complaint given by a social activist. He was aggrieved with a scene wherein mixie and grinders given as a freebie by the Government, is thrown into fire. According to him, this scene is to defame the Government and with an intention to destroy the solidarity and integrity of the nation. He also stated in the complaint that, this scene has deeply affected the sentiments of the people of Tamil Nadu. The Director of the movie approached the High Court seeking to quash the FIR.

Justice N. Anand Venkatesh observed that as a Certificate has been issued to the movie by the CBFC, there is a prima facie presumption that the authority has taken into account all the guidelines including public order. The court said that, prima facie, the allegations in the FIR do not make out any offence under Section 153, 153A (1) (a), 505(1) (b) and 505(1) (c).

"The complaint only reflects the feeling of the 2nd respondent by watching the Movie. The impression created to the 2nd respondent by watching a Movie cannot be the basis for registering an FIR by the respondent Police and the respondent Police must be satisfied about the various offences stated in the FIR, to have been committed by the petitioner", the court said.

The court further observed that the Director of the movie has every right to express his opinion about a Government Policy. "Giving freebies to the people is more a policy of the Government. Any policy of the Government is subject to public scrutiny and every citizen of the country is entitled to have their own opinion about a policy. The director of the Movie has felt strongly against giving freebies to the people. This has been shown as an expression in the Movie in the particular scene which is in question. There was no public uproar by the general public after the Movie was released. Only the political parties commented upon the issue taken up in the Movie and criticized it. Some of the party cadres even went to the extent of indulging in violence and caused disruption in many theatres in which this Movie was released."

The court also said that there is an element of exaggeration in every movie and through this movie also, the director expressed his opinion on freebies given by the Government, in a cinematic way. "Each viewer will get a different experience after watching the particular scene in question. Some of them may support the opinion expressed by the director and some may oppose it. If every person, who is not in agreement with the issue projected in the Movie, starts giving complaint against the director and an FIR comes to be registered on each complaint, it will sound the death knell to the mother of all other liberties namely; the freedom of speech and expression.", the court said.

Staying the investigation, the court added: "If FIRs are permitted to be registered in such a casual fashion, there is a great peril to an artist whose creativity will be stifled and the hard labour of our freedom fighters and makers of our Constitution will go down the drain. Registration of an FIR in such a cavalier fashion by the Police will directly touch upon the personal liberty of a person guaranteed under Article 21 of the Constitution."