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SC fines Mamata govt for shadow ban on political satire, says can’t silence speech for fear of mob

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New Delhi, Apr 11: The Supreme Court today fined the West Bengal government of Rs 20 lakh for a shadow ban on political satire 'Bhobishyoter Bhoot.' The court said that free speech cannot be silenced for the fear of the mob.

SC fines Mamata govt for shadow ban on political satire, says can’t silence speech for fear of mob

Don't want a film, don't turn the pages of a book, dont hear what's not music to the ears, but you cannot curb freedom of others, the court said.

The movie, 'Bhobishyoter Bhoot', had to be pulled out theatres after the Kolkata police joint commissioner of police had written to them citing political law and order problems. They cannot suppress dissent and freedom of speech and expression. Arbitrary exercise of powers by the state cannot be permitted. This case exposes the dangers of scuttling freedom of speech and expression, the Supreme Court said.

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The Bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud also said that a film duly certified does not need the approval of any other extra judicial authority for its screening. There is growing intolerance in society, but popular opinions cannot decide what is to be shown as artistic expressions and what not. Art is as much for the mainstream as it is for the margins.

Speech cannot be silenced for the fear of the mob. Art and literature will become victims of intolerance if the state does not act and protect the rights of the artists. To compensate the loss for the producer and theatre owners, the court said that the West Bengal government should be directed to pay a compensation of Rs 20 lakh. An additional Rs 1 lakh was imposed on the state as the cost of the litigation.

The order was passed on a plea filed by the Indibily Creative Pvt Ltd, which had challenged the validity of the action by the police.

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