New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed states to ensure that there was no opposition to the release of Nanak Shah Fakir, a film on the first Sikh guru which is set to release in India and abroad on April 13.
Directing state governments to ensure law and order, the bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra, Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said the freedom of expression of an artiste can't be curtailed by a group of private people.
Film producer Harinder Singh Sikka approached the top court against an Akal Takht order calling for a ban on the film.
Directing the states to maintain law and order, Chief Justice Misra said: "Once the CBFC grants the certificate, there can't be any kind of impediment for the exhibition of the film. It is well settled that once CBFC grants a certificate, it is final.
"Once the certificate is granted (by CBFC), unless it is nullified by a superior authority, the producer has every right to exhibit the film in movie halls. Any obstruction has the potential to bring anarchy and cripple the right of freedom of expression", said the court.
On Monday, with a section of the Sikhs opposing "Nanak Shah Fakir" for its portrayal of the Sikh Gurus as living human beings, the Akal Takht announced a ban on its release.
"We have imposed a ban on the controversial movie... The film cannot be released (on April 13)," Akal Takht Jathedar Gurbachan Singh told the media in Amritsar. The Akal Takht is the highest temporal seat of Sikh religion.
He said the religious sentiments of the community had been hurt over the portrayal of the Sikh masters.
The movie was earlier to be released in 2015, but it was shelved following the controversy.
With a number of Bollywood and Punjabi movies running into trouble vis-a-vis Sikh organisations over the portrayal of community members and the Sikh Gurus, the Akal Takht also decided to constitute a Sikh Censor Board on the matter.
In future, the Jathedar said, filmmakers will be required to seek the approval of the said board before starting a movie project in which Sikh religion or Sikhs were to be portrayed or highlighted in any manner.