The Kerala high court on Friday turned down central government’s demand for a stay on order to allow screening of award-winning thriller ‘S Durga’ (Former name is Sexy Durga) at the 48th International Film Festival of India (IFFI) going on at Goa.
A division bench declined a stay after considering during admission hearing an appeal by the central government challenging a single bench’s order. The eight-day festival had begun on Monday and the single bench’s order was on Tuesday. However, the division bench has admitted the appeal by the government for hearing.
While deciding not to grant a stay, the high court also directed for a fresh screening of a copy of the movie that is certified by Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) before the IFFI jury prior to showing it to the audience.
Questioning the single bench’s order, central government had contended that allowing screening of the movie as directed by the court “is likely to upset the whole arrangements” at IFFI.
The government also said that the single bench’s decision overruling its contention that the petition is not maintainable, as the high court has no jurisdiction, is in error.
The ministry had argued before the single bench that the petition cannot be heard in Kerala as the film festival is conducted at Goa and the ministry’s decision was taken at New Delhi. But the court had held that place of production can be considered as within Kerala as certification was given from CBFC’s regional office at Thiruvananthapuram.
Central government’s appeal had said that there was no specific pleading in the petition regarding territorial jurisdiction but the single bench assumed jurisdiction on the basis of the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) credentials. The single bench erred as place of CBFC certification does not have any nexus with the case and it cannot be said to give rise to a cause of action.
The order for screening the movie was issued by the single bench after considering a petition filed by the film’s director Sanal Kumar Sasidharan challenging exclusion of the movie from IFFI.