The Supreme Court on Friday ordered the West Bengal government to ensure that the film Bhobishyoter Bhoot is screened without any obstruction, LiveLaw reported. The court passed the interim order based on a plea by the producers of the film alleging that the Mamata Banerjee-led state government had ordered an unofficial ban on the film.
The bench of Justices DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said that “once the Central Board of Film Certification has certified a film, no one can come in the way of its public exhibition”.
Petitioners Indibily Creative Private Limited alleged that the state was misusing police power and acting like a “super censor” to thwart the screening of the film directed by Anik Datta. The film, which criticises political parties, including Banerjee’s Trinamool Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India, was released on February 15 but disappeared soon after that from theatres and multiplexes.
The petitioners claimed that the Special Branch of West Bengal Police had asked them to screen the film because they had received reports that the movie may lead to “political law and order problems”. The producers had refused their request.
Unidentified officials had purportedly told the director and cast members that “higher authorities” had instructed them to take the film off theatres and that several exhibitors had told them that police personnel had ordered them to stop screening the film.
On March 10, several people from the film industry, including actors Aparna Sen and Soumitra Chatterjee, staged a protest against the “attack on freedom of expression”. Chatterjee said the move to remove the film was a “fascist act” while the film’s director said he had a right to criticise.
When asked for her response on the matter, Banerjee said, “Don’t ask me such questions,” NDTV reported.