New Delhi, Mar 4: The Supreme Court today stayed the order of Uttar Pradesh government till March 14 banning the screening of Hindi movie 'Jodhaa-Akbar' in the state. A bench comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices R V Raveendran and J M Panchal also cleared the decks for release of the movie in the entire country.
The apex court fixed March 14 as the next date of hearing of the petition filed by UTV Software Limited, the producer of the movie challenging the ban on its screening. Earlier, Senior Counsel Ashok Desai contended before the court that the state was duty bound to ensure that the fundamental right of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19 (1)(a) of the Constitution was not violated and the ban imposed by Uttar Pradesh Government was only an administrative order that has not been issued under any statute.
Mr Desai also contended that first he had to go to Madhya Pradesh High Court to get the ban lifted and then, to the Rajasthan High Court. With today's order, the decks have also been cleared for screening in parts of Haryana and Uttarakhand.
The petitioner, pleading for urgent hearing, had also contended that the movie had already been cleared by Censor board, which was a statutory authority. Moreover, the petitioner has been suffering huge financial losses everyday and have already spent Rs 41 crore on the production and Rs 4 crore on the publicity of the movie till date. ''It is an open secret that a movie gives maximum collection in the initial period of its release,'' they added.
The screening of the movie has been opposed by a particular community and the Counsel for the petitioner described it as 'political gimmick'.
The producers have already come out with a disclaimer that they did not claim that the movie was historically correct.
The Hrithik Roshan-Aishwarya Rai starrer was released on February 15 this year. It showed Jodhaa Bai, a Rajput princess as wife of Mughal Emperor Akbar that some historians claimed was not true.