New Delhi: The producer of a documentary on Kashmir violence today told the Delhi High Court that censor board was asking him to delete some scenes before certifying it for public viewing, even though it has been shown in four film festivals with official permission without a single cut.
A bench of Chief Justice G Rohini and Justice Jayant Nath refused to pass any interim order, saying the matter required consideration and listed it for hearing on August 13. The bench was hearing a plea of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) challenging an order by a single judge of the High Court directing it to issue a certificate to the documentary 'Textures of Loss' for public screening without any cuts.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for the documentary producer Pankaj Butalia, said the Information and Broadcasting Ministry had given one-time exemption to screen the movie without cuts four times at various film festivals.
He said the film was screened without any cut in Delhi at the India International Centre in March 2013 and India Habitat Centre in April 2013.
Apart from this, the documentary was also shown at the Ladakh International Film Festival in Leh in 2013 and the Naukuchiataal Film Festival in March this year, he said.
"On all these occasions, my film which still does not have a censorship certificate, could only have been screened on the basis of 'one time censorship exemption' granted by the I&B Ministry," Butalia has said in an affidavit before the court.
Despite that, the censor board was not giving it a certificate for public viewing without deletions, Butalia's counsel said.
The censor board has challenged the high court order as well as sought an interim stay on its operation. A single judge of the high court had on May 25 directed CBFC to allow exhibition of the movie without deletion of any scene.
CBFC had proposed several cuts in the documentary prior to granting it certification for public viewing. The high court had also observed that film-making was a creative process and neither the tribunal, nor the courts could tell a film-maker how to make a movie.
The order had come on Butalia's plea challenging the December 2013 and September 2014 orders of CBFC and the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT), which had asked him to cut several scenes.
CBFC, while defending its stand, had termed the scenes it wanted to be deleted by terming them as a "powder keg", adding that it apprehended these could lead to a violent situation.
Meanwhile, Butalia has moved a plea seeking contempt action against CBFC for not complying with the high court's order to certify his film for public screening.