The Kerala High Court on Tuesday allowed the screening of filmmaker Anand Patwardhan’s documentary Vivek/Reason at the ongoing International Documentary and Short Film Festival in Thiruvananthapuram, Live Law reported. The Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had barred the screening, claiming that it could cause law and order problems.
The High Court said that the Centre’s claim cannot be upheld, and that the screening was permissible even according to the guidelines framed by the ministry itself. However, Justice Shaji P Chaly, who passed the order, added that the documentary cannot be screened elsewhere.
The documentary explores the rise of religious fundamentalism in India, in the backdrop of murders of rationalists Narendra Dabholkar, Govind Pansare and MM Kalburgi. The Centre on Monday refused to grant sanction to screen it.
The Kerala Chalachithra Academy had sent 208 films to the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for exemption from the Central Board of Film Certification, The Times of India reported. However, the ministry singled out Reason, and asked for a detailed synopsis of the documentary.
“When we contacted the ministry, they said a detailed synopsis,” academy secretary Mahesh Panchu said on Monday. “We sent that and still got no reply despite repeated queries. Finally, we got an email communication that exemption cannot be given.” Panchu had said the documentary’s organisers would approach the High Court on Tuesday.
The academy filed a writ petition in the court on Tuesday. Patwardhan was the second petitioner in the case.