HC stays ban on Viswaroopam

The Madras high court on Tuesday stayed the ban on Kamal Haasan’s Vishwaroopam after prolonged arguments but the state advocate general A. Navaneethakrishnan announced that the government would go on appeal against the single judge’s order.
He wanted Justice K. Venkataraman to stay his order at least till 10 am on Wednesday to enable the state to go on appeal, expressing apprehension that the movie could be screened even at dawn time, but the judge declined.
Arguments on the second day lasted for almost seven hours and Justice K. Venkataraman pronounced the operative portion of his verdict at 10.15 at night even as media persons crowded the court hall. “Considering the totality of the circumstances, I am of the considered view that the order made under Section 144 CrPC (by the district collectors stopping the film) be kept in abeyance for the present. Therefore, there shall be an order of interim stay of the operation of the (collectors’) order”, he said.
He restrained the state government from interfering with Kamal’s Haasan’ right to release his film.
Making clear this was an interim order and the matter would be decided “on merit and in accordance with law” after the government files its counter, the judge also pointed out that the ban against the film had been passed after representations from many Muslim outfits. “Their remedy is to approach authority named under the Cinematograph Act 1952 to seek redressal”, he said, adding that while the government should maintain law and order, that “did not mean that a section of the society can curtail the fundamental right of a citizen but it has to protect these persons whose fundamental rights are threatened to be violated.”
The judge also said all the collectors had passed identical orders sans independent reasons “and solely relied on statement made by the Muslim Organisations…it seems to be that the district collector is carried away by the sentiments expressed by the Muslim organisations and nothing more”.
Muslim organisations of the state welcomed the government steps to oppose Justice Venkataraman’s order.

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