Central Board of Film Certification’s decision to refuse certification to “Porkalathil Oru Poo”, upheld 

Madras High Court: While deliberating upon the issue of refusal of certification by the CBFC to the film “Porkalathil Oru Poo” based on the life and trials of LTTE journalist Isai Priya, the Bench of T.S. Sivagnanam, J., upheld the decision of the CBFC and the FCAT to refuse certification to the film for public exhibition on the grounds that the film has violated the right of privacy of the main character and her family members. The Court further observed that the film depicting the LTTE movement was full of violence, sexual preservations and reflected the Sri Lankan Government and Administration in bad light and that such depiction can jeopardize the relationship between India and Sri Lanka.

 As per the facts of the case, the CBFC refused to grant certificate to the film as it portrayed the Indian Government and the Sri Lankan Army in negative light and justified the Tamil Eelam by LTTE; furthermore a map consisting of separate Tamil Eelam was depicted as well. The petitioner further appealed before the FCAT, which upheld the decision of the CBFC. The respondents (the family members and descendants of Isai Priya) in the meanwhile sought a decree to restrain the promotion, exhibition and release of the film without their consent. The respondents contended that the movie in question is a commercial movie made with the sole object of making money and no proper research on the life of Isai Priya was done by the filmmaker and that the movie infringes the right of privacy of the family of the late journalist. Per contra the petitioner contended that, through this film he has tried to bring forth the plight of the Tamils in the hands of the Sri Lankan army and that he is ready to delete the scenes which are objectionable in the eyes of the respondents.

After hearing and perusing the contentions, the Court observed that there is no uniform law dealing with censorship of films as a decision related to exhibit or not to exhibit a movie depends on case to case. However the Court observed that the film in question relates to the daughter of one of the respondents and about her personal life along with a sensitive issue of the LTTE conflict in Sri Lanka; furthermore it was observed by the Court that a 20 minute long scene of gang rape of the protagonist by the Sri Lankan army has been depicted in the movie which defy the reasonable restrictions regarding morality, public order and decency as enshrined in Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The Court also observed that due regard was not taken to the standards of the country and the people to which the story relates, therefore the CBFC was right in denying certification to “Porkalathil Oru Poo”. [K. Ganeshan v. Film Certification Appellate Tribunal, 2016 SCC OnLine Mad 9355, decided on 29.09.2016]


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