The Delhi High Court quashed the FIR filed against the producer of the Bollywood movie “Delhi-6” under Section 3(1)(x) of The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 read with Section 7(d) of The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
FIR was lodged against Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra & Another on grounds that the movide “Delhi-6” insulted the entire Balmiki Samaj.
While quashing the FIR, the Court ruled: –
i) Freedom of expression is of inestimable value in a democratic society based on the rule of law. Our written Constitution guarantees not only freedom of speech but also freedom after speech.
ii) Though censorship of films constituting prior restraint is justified under the Indian Constitution, yet the censors have to make a substantial allowance in favour of freedom, thereby leaving a vast area for creative art to interpret life and society with some of its foibles along with what is good. Consequently, the film “Delhi-6” being a piece of art, is entitled to protection of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
iii) The test to determine whether a movie falls foul of freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution is to view the film in its entirety and not to examine a few expressions and scenes of the film in isolation – as sought to be done by the petitioners in the present FIR. The court will have to take into consideration what effect the film will produce on the mind of the viewer for whom the film is intended. The effect of the words and scenes will have to be judged from the standards of a reasonable, strong minded, firm and courageous man and not from that of a weak and vacillating mind.
iv) A film that carries a message that the social evil is evil cannot be made impermissible on the ground that it depicts the social evil. It has to be borne in mind that a film that illustrate consequences of social evil, must necessarily show that evil.
v) The present film seen in its entirety, generates empathy for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. No intention to insult the members of Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes community can be attributed to the petitioners in the present case. The present film in no manner supports the practice of untouchability in any manner. The acts attributed to the petitioners do not amount to preaching and practicing untouchability, within the meaning of Section 7 of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
vi) Section 5-A of The Cinematograph Act and Section 79 IPC constitute an express legal bar to the institution and continuance of the proceedings initiated by the respondent no. 2-complainant. In fact, the certificate issued by CBFC furnishes a complete legal justification to the petitioner for public exhibition of the film and exonerates them from offences under IPC, The Scheduled Castes and The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 as well as The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955.
vii) This Court has the power to quash an FIR under investigation at the initial stage itself.