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Court fines Bengal government for film ban

April 12, 2019

The Supreme Court has come down strongly on the Mamata Banerjee in Bengal for a ban on a political satire. The government has been fined Rs 20 lakh for a ban on the film Bhobishyoter Bhoot that was withdrawn from theatres a day after its release in February.

This move by the government sparked off a public debate over artistic freedom in the state and exposed the chief minister to attacks from the BJP. Bengal BJP president Dilip Ghosh targeted her for promoting freedom of speech during protests against Padmaavat and then stopping this film. Mamata Banerjee had refused to comment on the controversy.

In the Supreme Court, the judges showed concern for "growing intolerance in society against artistic freedom, syaing "free speech can't be silenced for the fear of the mob,.

The court ordered the state police and administration to ensure the movie was screened without any problems after the producers of the film moved court. The court said no one could restrict screening of a movie once it is cleared by the censor board.

The Supreme Court judgement is more important than the fine because it upholds freedom of speech and expression overall and not just about a particular film. - Kalyanmoy Chatterjee, Film producer

The film was shown in 44 halls and 60 screens until it was withdrawn. Many intellectuals held protest meetings against the government for stopping the screening.

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