BHOBISHYOTER Bhoot: SC Fines Bengal Govt 20 Lakh For Stopping Its Screening

THE Supreme Court has ordered the Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government to pay a fine of Rs 20 lakh for attempting to stop the screening of Anik Dutta directed political satire Bhobishyoter Bhoot. The money will be given to the producers as well as theatre owners for violation of their rights of free speech and expression.”It is the duty of state to ensure free speech isn’t stifled by the mob. In this case, unconstitutional attempts were made to obstruct the screening of the film,” the apex court said. Just a day after Bhobishyoter Bhoot released in February this year, it was taken off from almost all multiplexes and single screen theatres in West Bengal for “political reasons”. Bengal Government has imposed “virtual” ban on the public screening of the satirical film “Bhobishyoter Bhoot” across the state. A  SC Bench headed by senior Justice D Y Chandrachud said the fine amount of Rs 20 lakh shall be given to producers and cinema owners as compensation for violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression. The court was hearing a plea by the film producer alleging the movie was taken down from the most of the theatres at the behest of the state authorities. On March 15, the top court directed the Mamata Banerjee government to ensure that no obstruction or restraint of any kind was imposed on the screening of the movie. A communication was received by one of the producers of the movie from the Special Branch of West Bengal Police that the contents of the film may hurt public sentiments which may lead to political law and order issues. The film, directed by Anik Dutta, was released on February 15. Its story revolves around a group of ghosts, including a politician, who assemble at a refugee camp and try to be relevant in contemporary times. The film was allegedly withdrawn from single-screen theatres and multiplexes a day after its release. Director Anik Dutta told IANS that “higher authorities” ensured that his film was not screened. “I haven’t got any official communication regarding the cancellation, all they said was that the instructions were from higher authorities. But I have received immense support and the film fraternity has shown great solidarity,” he said.The filmmaker had earlier expressed his disgruntlement at the decision to ban Bhobishyoter Bhoot. “The screening has been stopped even after the film was passed by the censor board without any major cuts. The hall owners are responsible for running the film and I seek an answer from the ones who have given them instructions,” he had said.The  feature  Bengali  film mocks all political parties without taking any name, then how can there be any issue of intolerance, he added.

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