Apex court refuses to ban ‘Deshdrohi’ release Friday (Lead)

January 22nd, 2009 - 8:31 pm ICT by IANS  

Raj ThackerayNew Delhi, Jan 22 (IANS) The Supreme Court has refused to ban the Friday release of the film “Deshdrohi”, which allegedly lampoons the Maharastra Navnirman Sena (MNS) and its chief Raj Thackeray and the sectarian politics they espouse in Maharashtra.A bench of Justice B.N. Agrawal and Justice G.S. Singhvi Thursday refused to prevent the release of the film, saying it would hear the Maharashtra government’s plea to ban the film again on Friday itself.

Appearing for the Maharashtra government, Solicitor General Goolam E. Vahanvati apprised the bench of the lawsuit filed by the state and wanted the court to ban the film immediately.

But the bench said it will hear the plea Friday.

The Maharashtra government had approached the apex court challenging a Bombay High Court ruling, which had Jan 9 scrapped its order banning the film on Nov 12 for two months.

In its appeal to the apex court against the high court order, the state government said it had banned the film on the basis of intelligence reports which suggested that the MNS workers would not take kindly to the film and resort to violence as the party has been shown in poor light in the film.

The state government told the apex court in its petition that days before its order banning the film for two months was to lapse, it received intelligence reports yet again apprehending sectarian clashes in the state.

Accordingly, it decided on Jan 3 to extend the ban on the film for another two months in public interest, said the state government.

But it did not extend the ban as the high court was seized of the matter and was still examining the legality of its earlier order.

The high court eventually set aside its ban order Jan 9, said the state government’s counsel Ravindra Adsure in the petition, adding that producers of the film O.K. International had slated the release of the film Jan 23.

The petition said the film was made by O.K. International’s owner Kamal R. Khan soon after sectarian violence against north Indians gripped Maharashtra.

Quoting the state intelligence report, the state government’s petition said “the MNS workers have still not reconciled to their stand regarding son-of-the-soil versus outsiders.”

There is every likelihood of MNS workers indulging in vandalism, if the movie “Deshdrohi” is screened in theatres of the state, said the state intelligence report, annexed to the state government petition.

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