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DIRECTORATE OF FILM FESTIVALS & ORS Versus GAURAV ASHWIN JAIN & ORS

2007 (4) TMI 726 - SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

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 Government of India. The awards are given to feature films as also non-feature films. The respondents who are documentary film makers, .....

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ere 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 declaration that films made and released on either 'film format' or 'digital format' are eligible for entry, without any ce .....

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nizing 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 arts and humanities), there was no need for certification by the Board under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 ('Act' for short). I .....

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ic 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. According to the respondents, most non-feature films are shot and released in digital format, a far superior technology when compared to .....

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lm-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 herein (respondents in the writ petition) submitted that the Directorate had decided to accept the entry of non-feature films on dig .....

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ertification 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 said two clauses should be read without those words. The High Court however, reserved liberty to appellants to impose a condition si .....

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cceptance 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 with reference to Article 19(1)(a). Questions for consideration 8. Being aggrieved by the said decision of the High Court, the Dir .....

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e, 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 discriminatory, violating Article 14 of the Constitution. Legal Provisions 9. The relevant provisions of the 53rd National Film Award .....

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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 and 31st December 2005. (c) The Director of the film should be an Indian national. (d) Films made in any Indian language, shot on 16 .....

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m 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 Certification, provided a specific certificate from the Head of the organization to the effect that the film has been produced within t .....

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ification, 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 non-feature films, duly constituted by the Directorate with the approval of the Government of India. (b) The Jury for Feature films .....

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rd." 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). Sections 4 and 5A provide for examination and certification of films. They require any person desiring to exhibit any film, to make an .....

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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 States, public order, decency or morality, or involves defamation or contempt of Court or is likely to incite the commission of any off .....

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tion 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 cinematic form, and thereby, also to promote nation's integrity and unity. This object is sought to be achieved by selecting t .....

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ld 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 Board of Film Certification as being suitable for public exhibition under the categories 'unrestricted' or 'restricted .....

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er 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. The requirement under sections 4 and 5A of the Act relating to certification by the Board, where the film is intended for public e .....

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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 encourage the production of films with aesthetic and technical excellence and social relevance, whether such encouragement should be by .....

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ich 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 erroneous or on the ground that a better, fairer or wiser alternative is available. Legality of the policy, and not the wisdom or .....

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ards 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 those which the public can see and enjoy or gain knowledge. The said policy neither relates to nor interferes with the right of a .....

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ified 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 Awards is discriminatory, as the Ministry has permitted films to be entered in Film Festivals (non- commercial), without any certificati .....

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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 country or affect law and order or affect relations with other countries). The respondents contend that when films can be entered in the .....

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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, or otherwise unacceptable/objectionable. 17. The Government can no doubt make a policy permitting entry to all films including tho .....

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ent 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 National Film Awards. The object of Film Festivals and the object of National Film Awards are different. Film Festivals are held, to .....

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ose 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 application of different norms to Film Festivals and National Film Awards, lead to a complaint of discrimination. Applying different yard .....

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t 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 situated, have been granted relief which the petitioner is seeking, may be of some relevance. But where in law, a writ petitioner has not .....

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n 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 the other person is found to be contrary to law or not warranted in the facts and circumstances of his case, it is obvious that such .....

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orrected, 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 Court is not condoning the earlier illegal act/order nor can such illegal order constitute the basis for a legitimate complaint of di .....

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e 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 another person's case, which other person is not before the case nor is his case. In our considered opinion, such a course - barr .....

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l 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 court in a negative manner. To put it in other words, if an illegality or irregularity has been committed in favour of any individu .....

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y 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 an illegal procedure or an illegal order for extending similar benefits to others. Before a claim based on equality clause is upheld .....

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y 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 illegal, he cannot claim a similar illegal exemption in his favour. 22. The appellants point out that only films produced by the Fi .....

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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 the film has been produced within the eligibility period. There is no basis for the assumption that merely because a diploma or deg .....

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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 notification exempts are programmes telecast by Doordarshan (in respect of which the Director General, Doordarshan or the Director of the .....

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984 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 circumstances for exempting the films entered by Doordarshan. The exemption given under Regulation 10(g) is not for films made by D .....

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