Kashmir Violence documentary: HC clears release of Butalia’s film without any cut or disclaimer

Posted: May 26, 2015 in Armed Forces Special Power Act, Conflict and Peace, Draconian Laws, Human Rights, Right to Dissent, State Violence
Tags: , ,

The Indian Express

The CBFC and the FCAT had suggested that some angry remarks — made by parents of children killed during the 2010 stone-pelting clashes in Srinagar — should be censored.

Delhi High Court, Pankaj Butalia, Pankaj Butalia movie,, Kashmir documentary filmmaker, Pankaj Butalia, Textures of Loss, Censor Board, Kashmir violence documentary, Central Board of Film Certification, CBFC, Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal, FCAT, Indian express, express news

A still from the documentary.

Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: May 26, 2015 5:26 am

The Delhi High Court on Monday allowed the release of a documentary by filmmaker Pankaj Butalia on Kashmir violence, noting that the “right to censor films, shown in whatever form, constitutes a prior restraint,” and should “necessarily be reasonable”.

Butalia’s work focuses on the spate of violence in Kashmir between 2005 and 2013 and contains interviews of people affected by it. The fimmaker had approached the HC after the Central Board of Film Certification and Film Certificate Appellate Tribunal suggested some major cuts in the 61-minute documentary.

The CBFC and the FCAT had suggested that some angry remarks — made by parents of children killed during the 2010 stone-pelting clashes in Srinagar — should be censored. They had also directed Butalia to include a disclaimer stating “all views in the film are personal”, before the beginning of the documentary.

The filmmaker was also asked by the CBFC to delete the words “disproportionate violence” from a description of the clashes. But the HC today gave a go-ahead to the filmmaker to screen the documentary — ‘The Textures of Loss’ — with a ‘U’ certificate, and without any disclaimers. “Unanimity of thought and views is not the test to be employed by censuring authorities in such situations…The response cannot be to ban, mutilate or destroy the work of another, with whom one stridently disagrees,” noted the court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher.

During arguments in the case, the counsel for the CBFC claimed that some remarks, particularly one made by the father of a child killed in police firing, were “seditious” and “would affect the security and sovereignty of the country.”

But the high court rubbished the argument, saying, “In my opinion, the FCAT has completely misguided itself by not appreciating the context in which the statement has been made. As rightly contended by the petitioner, the father, who was grief-stricken on account of the death of his eight-year-old son, was venting his anger”.

The court also noted that the CBFC had not followed proper procedure while passing the order in 2013, as it had not given an opportunity to the filmmaker to present his side. But the HC rejected the filmmaker’s plea to set aside the censorship guidelines of the CBFC on the ground that they, according to Butalia, “infringed upon freedom of speech and expression.”

The court noted that the guidelines are “ not bad in law, or ultra vires the Constitution,” as they “attempt to explain the nuances” of the “reasonable restrictions” on free speech.

First Published on: May 26, 2015 3:14 am

Cannot tell a filmmaker to delete this, delete that: HC

The CBFC had asked Butalia to cut three scenes from the documentary and insert a disclaimer.

Delhi High Court, Filmmaker Butalia, who had based his documentary on the Kashmir Valley region between 2005-2013, had approached the High Court in January this year against the cuts.
Written by Aneesha Mathur | New Delhi | Updated: April 11, 2015 3:50 am

Commenting that the court “could not tell a filmmaker how he is to make his movie”, the Delhi High Court on Friday reserved its judgment on a plea filed by filmmaker Pankaj Butalia against cuts recommended by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) in a documentary film on long-term violence in Kashmir.

“Which guidelines are being breached? The issue of Kashmir is a controversial issue but that cannot lead to a situation where I tell a filmmaker to delete this, delete that,” the court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher observed.

The remarks were made after Central governmentcounsel Gaurav Sarin told the court that comments made in the documentary, Textures of Loss, could “incite a law and order situation”. Sarin, in his arguments, also stated that the government apprehended a “powder keg” situation in Kashmir and “a security threat or violence” if the documentary was allowed to be aired without cuts. He further argued that the board had only recommended a five-second cut in the documentary — which is over one-hour long — and said this was a “reasonable restriction” under Article 19(2) of the Constitution.

The cuts proposed by the CBFC include parts of comments made during interviews of the father of a child killed during the 2010 stone-pelting episode in Srinagar, and the wife of a man arrested on allegations of being a militant.

Butalia, who had based his documentary on the Kashmir Valley region between 2005-2013, had approached the High Court in January this year against the cuts.

The CBFC had asked Butalia to cut three scenes from the documentary and insert a disclaimer that the views expressed in the film by individuals were solely their views.

http://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/cannot-tell-a-filmmaker-to-delete-this-delete-that-hc/

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