Kerala High Court permits screening of Anand Patwardhan's documentary at festival
The Kerala High Court on Tuesday permitted the screening of Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Vivek (Reason) at the ongoing International Documentary and Short Film Festival of Kerala.
The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had earlier denied sanction to screen the documentary at the festival on the ground that “the theme of the film is sensitive and it would invite law and order issues”.
The films at the festival do not essentially require a censor certificate, but a censor exemption certificate from the Union ministry is mandatory for the screening of films at the festival. Last month, the festival organiser had approached the union ministry seeking censor exemption for 161 films slated to be screened in the six-day festival, which would end on June 26. The ministry, however, did not give censor exemption for Vivek, which delves into religious fundamentalism in the country, against the background of the murders of rationalists Narendra Dhabolkar, Govind Pansare, Kalburgi and journalist Gauri Lankesh.
On Tuesday, a single judge bench of Justice Shaji P Chaly acted upon a petition moved by the festival organiser, the Kerala State Chalachitra Academy, which functions under the state government’s Department of Cultural Affairs. Film director Patwardhan had also impleaded in the petition.
While allowing permission to screen the film, the court observed that it should not be screened elsewhere as the permission was meant for the festival only.
In the 2017 edition of the festival too the Union ministry had denied the festival permission to screen controversial documentaries on the JNU protests, Rohith Vemula’s death and unrest in Kashmir. However, the academy had then moved the High Court and obtained a favourable order, leading to the screening of all three films.