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2007 (4) TMI 726 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

2007 (4) TMI 726 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA - 2007 AIR 1640, 2007 (5) SCR 7, 2007 (4) SCC 737, 2007 (5) JT 394, 2007 (5) SCALE 565 - C.A. 1892 of 2007 - Dated:- 11-4-2007 - R. V. RAVEENDRAN, J. Leave granted. The judgment dated 27.7.2006 of the Bombay High Court in W.P. No.1448 of 2006 is under challenge in this appeal. 2. The Directorate of Film Festivals under the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting organizes National Film Awards ('NFA' for short) every year, on behalf of the Gove .....

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on ('Board' for short); and (ii) that the films should have been released only on a film (celluloid) format, even if they were shot in digital format. Clause (d) of Regulation 10 stipulated similar requirements in regard to feature films. The Respondents, therefore, filed WP No.1448/2006, seeking a declaration that Regulations 10(d) and (e) of the 53rd National Film Award Regulations were violative of Articles 14 and 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. They also sought a consequential declarat .....

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ilms in their pristine form and appreciate the creative talent of the film makers as also the theme and content of the films. Recognizing the said tradition, the Ministry evolved a policy in respect of non-commercial Film Festivals and exempted all entries from the requirement of certification by the Board. As the entries for National Film Awards did not involve any public exhibition, and were viewed only by a select jury (consisting of persons distinguished in the fields of cinema and allied ar .....

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Film Institutes and films entered by Doordarshan for NFAs were exempted from the requirement of certification by the Board. The logic for exempting those films applied equally to other films also. The action of the Directorate in exempting films produced by Film Institutes and entries made by Doordarshan from certification while insisting on such certification by the Board in the case of other films for entry for NFAs amounted to hostile discrimination. Reasons for the Second Grievance 5. Accord .....

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m Awards. Conversion from digital to a film (celluloid) format involves huge expenditure and most of the independent documentary film-makers, who operate on a tight budget, cannot afford the expense of conversion. It was submitted that restricting entry to only films released on film format, would prevent most of the non-feature films from being entered for National Film Awards. Decision of the High Court 6. When the said writ petition was taken up for hearing by the High Court, the appellants h .....

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es/Doordarshan and films produced by others, for purposes of entry for National Film Awards; and that the requirement relating to certification by Board in respect of film makers other than Film Institutes and Doordarshan amounted to hostile discrimination. It, therefore, allowed the writ petition by its judgment dated 27.7.2006 holding that the words "and certified by the Central Board of Film Certification" in Regulations 10(d) and (e) were violative of Article 14 and void, and the s .....

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ties of any country and/or promote racism or any other reason Festival Authority consider to be sufficient for acceptance or non- acceptance of a film/video." The High Court directed the Appellants to permit film-makers to enter their films in digital format without any certification from the Central Board of Film Certification. As the High Court found that the requirement relating to certification by the Board was violative of Article 14 and therefore, invalid, it did not examine the issue .....

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restriction on the fundamental right of film makers, violative of Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution. (ii) Whether the Directorate, having permitted entry of films in an uncensored format for awards in Non-Commercial Film Festivals, should do so in respect of National Film Awards also. (iii) Whether exempting films made by Film Institutes and films entered by Doordarshan from the requirement of certification by the Board, while requiring certification by the Board in the case of others, is dis .....

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also promoting integration and unity of the nation." Eligibility "10.(a) Only those persons whose names are on the credit titles of the film and are normally residing and working in India shall be eligible for the Awards. The film should have been produced in India. In the case of co- productions involving a foreign entity, the following conditions should be fulfilled :- (a) .. (b) The film should have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification between 1st January 2005 a .....

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#39;s films . (e) Films made in any Indian language, shot on 16 mm, 35 mm or in a wider gauge or digital format but released on film format and certified by the Central Board of Film Certification as a Documentary/Newsreel/Non-Fiction/Short-Fiction are eligible for non- feature film section. (f) A film produced by a film institute running diploma/degree courses run by it which are recognized by the Government of India shall be eligible even without certification by the Central Board of Film Cert .....

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nt along with the entry form. (h) & (i) .. (j) All entries should be in the version certified by the Central Board of Film Certification, except films as per provisions of clause (f) and Clause (g) above." Last date for receipt of entry : 13. Last date for receipt of the application along with the print in the Directorate of film Festivals shall be the 19th May, 2006. Procedure for selection : "19. (a) The Awards shall be decided by two juries, one for feature films and other for n .....

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ny particular category may not be given if they are of the opinion that the entries in that category are not of the required standard." 10. Certification of films for exhibition and regulation of exhibition by means of cinematograph is governed by the Cinematograph Act, 1952 ('Act' for short). Part II of the Act relates to certification of films for public exhibition. Section 3 provides for constitution of the Board of Film Certification (earlier known as Board of Film Censors). Sec .....

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plicant to carry out excisions or modifications or even to refuse sanction of the film for public exhibition. Section 5B lays down the principles for guidance in certifying films. Sub-section (1) thereof provides that a film shall not be certified for public exhibition if, in the opinion of the authority competent to grant the certificate, the film or any part of it is against the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign Stat .....

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ntral Government may, by order in writing exempt, subject to such conditions and restrictions, if any, as it may impose, the exhibition of any film or class of films from any of the provisions of this Part or any rules made thereunder." Re : Point (i) 11. The object of the National Film Awards is to encourage the production of films of aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance contributing to the understanding and appreciation of cultures of different regions of the country in .....

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1.1.2005 and 31.12.2005. The last date for entries for NFA was 19.5.2006. This means that most of the films that were entered, would have been released for public exhibition before the last date prescribed for entry (except those which are not released for public exhibition due to non- availability of distributors, exhibitors, theaters or other reasons). 12. Under the Cinematograph Act, 1952, a film can be released for public exhibition only if it has been examined and certified by the Central .....

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c exhibition. The second is to consider the films in the form in which they will be seen by the public. 13. The right of a film maker to make and exhibit his film, is a part of his fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1) (a) of the Constitution. A film is a medium for expressing and communicating ideas, thoughts, messages, information, feelings and emotions. It may be intended either for public exhibition (commercial or non-commercial) or purely for private use. .....

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s. Manubhai D. Shah (1992 (3) SCC 637)]. But the question here is not whether the requirement that films can be released for public exhibition, only if they possess a certificate issued by the Central Board of Film Certification, is a reasonable restriction. The question is whether the Government can impose a condition that the entry of films for awards will be restricted to only those which possess a certificate issued by the Board under section 5A of the Act. Whether the government should enco .....

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ning the correctness, suitability and appropriateness of a policy. Nor are courts Advisors to the executive on matters of policy which the executive is entitled to formulate. The scope of judicial review when examining a policy of the government is to check whether it violates the fundamental rights of the citizens or is opposed to the provisions of the Constitution, or opposed to any statutory provision or manifestly arbitrary. Courts cannot interfere with policy either on the ground that it is .....

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and Akhil Bharat Goseva Sangh vs. State of Andhra Pradesh - 2006 (4) SCC 162]. 15. The Government's policy for National Film Awards is to restrict entry to only those films which have been certified by the Board for exhibition, that is films intended for public exhibition. The government is not interested in evaluating or giving an award to a film which may never be seen by the public, or at all events never be seen in an 'uncensored' form. Its object is to select the best from among .....

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'films made and certified for public exhibition'. We, therefore, hold that the requirement that films should have been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification between 1.1.2005 and 31.12.2005 for entry for the 53rd National Film Awards is not an unreasonable restriction of any fundamental right of the respondents or other film makers. Re : Point (ii) 16. We will next consider whether requirement relating to certificate from the Board in regard to entry for National Film Award .....

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provides that censorship will not be applicable to any films entered in the festival. Thus, the policy of the Government is to give exemption from certification by the Board for entering films (both Indian and foreign) in Film Festivals which are non- commercial in nature and where viewership is confined to delegates and select audiences (subject to the condition that the Ministry will have the power to reject any film which in its opinion would impinge on the security and integrity of the count .....

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uard even for National Film Awards and there is no need for requiring a certificate from the Board. It is also pointed out that the Jury for National Film Awards consists of distinguished persons from the field of cinema and other allied areas and humanities, selected by the Directorate with the approval of the Government of India, and such a body of Jurists can be expected to act responsibly and weed out films which may offend the feelings and sensibility of any country or which promote racism, .....

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easonable or manifestly arbitrary as to warrant interference in Judicial review. Nothing prevents the Government from having different policies for National Film Awards and for Film Festivals. 18. The High Court wrongly proceeded on the assumption that the objects of the Film Festivals and National Film Awards are the same and therefore when permission was granted for entering films in Film Festivals without certification by the Board, a similar treatment should be extended to entries for the Na .....

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standing and appreciation of cultures of different regions of the country and promote national integration and unity. When the purpose and object of Film Festivals and National Film Awards are completely different, the conditions that are made applicable, or the exemptions that are granted, in respect of Film Festivals, cannot automatically be applied to National Film Awards. The two being unequal and dissimilar, the question of applying the same standards or norms does not arise. Nor can applic .....

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f discrimination is made, the High Court cannot just examine whether someone similarly situated has been granted a relief or benefit and then automatically direct grant of such relief or benefit to the person aggrieved. The High Court has to first examine whether the petitioner who has approached the court has established a right, entitling him to the relief sought on the facts and circumstances of the case. In the context of such examination, the fact that some others, who are similarly situate .....

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ngh [1995 (1) SCC 745] thus : "Generally speaking, the mere fact that the respondent-authority has passed a particular order in the case of another person similarly situated can never be the ground for issuing a writ in favour of the petitioner on the plea of discrimination. The order in favour of the other person might be legal and valid or it might not be. That has to be investigated first before it can be directed to be followed in the case of the petitioner. If the order in favour of th .....

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tle the High Court to compel the authority to repeat that illegality over again and again. The illegal/unwarranted action must be corrected, if it can be done according to law - indeed, wherever it is possible, the Court should direct the appropriate authority to correct such wrong orders in accordance with law - but even if it cannot be corrected, it is difficult to see how it can be made a basis for its repetition. By refusing to direct the respondent-authority to repeat the illegality, the Co .....

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it is found that the petitioners' case is similar to the other persons' case. But then why examine another person's case in his absence rather than examining the case of the petitioner who is present before the Court and seeking the relief. Is it not more appropriate and convenient to examine the entitlement of the petitioner before the Court to the relief asked for in the facts and circumstances of his case than to enquire into the correctness of the order made or action taken in an .....

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n is contrary to law or otherwise. Each case must be decided on its own merits, factual and legal, in accordance with relevant legal principles." In Gursharan Singh v. New Delhi Municipal Committee [1996 (2) SCC 459], this Court observed : "There appears to be some confusion in respect of the scope of Article 14 of the Constitution which guarantees equality before law to all citizens. This guarantee of equality before law is a positive concept and it cannot be enforced by a citizen or .....

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question the validity of orders which are said to have been passed in favour of persons who were not entitled to the same, but they cannot claim orders which are not sanctioned by law in their favour on principle of equality before law. Neither Article 14 of the Constitution conceives within the equality clause this concept nor Article 226 empowers the High Court to enforce such claim of equality before law. If such claims are enforced, it shall amount to directing to continue and perpetuated a .....

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therefore follows that a film maker does not have any right to claim that he is entitled to enter his films without certification by the Board. When a film maker complains of discrimination on the ground that films made by Film Institutes and films entered by Doordarshan have been exempted from the requirement of certification, and claims similar exemption, the question that requires examination is whether the exemption that has been granted to Film Institutes and Doordarshan is legal. If it is .....

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he persons in charge of the Film Institute would ensure due compliance with the principles and guidelines relating to certification of films under section 5B of the Act. Regulation 10(f) does not even require the Head of the film institute to certify that the film has been made by him or under his supervision or that the film complies with the principles and guidelines relating to certification under section 5B of the Act. Regulation 10(f) requires the Head of the Institute to only certify that .....

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f exemption under section 9 of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, exempting all Doordarshan programmes from the the provisions of the Act relating to certification of films, subject to the condition that while clearing programmes for telecast the Director General Doordarshan or the concerned Director, Doordarshan Kendra shall keep in view that the film certification guidelines issued by the Central Government to the Board of Film Certification under section 5B(2) of the said Act. What the said notific .....

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4 does not grant any exemption in respect of entries made by Doordarshan for Film Awards. Therefore, the notification dated 16.10.1984 is not relevant. It is not necessary to examine the further question whether the Central Government can invest in the Director General and the Directors of Doordarshan Kendras the power and authority of the Central Board for Film Certification and thereby create virtually a parallel body. 24. If the notification dated 16.10.1984 is excluded, there are no special .....

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but does not require a certificate from the Director General that the film entered has been viewed by him and it complies with the principles/guidelines relating to certification under section 5B. In the circumstances, we do not find any basis for a classification treating entries by Doordarshan as a special class requiring exemption. 25. There are innumerable Film Institutes and several Doordarshan Kendras. The exemptions in favour of films made by Film Institutes and films entered by Doordarsh .....

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