Padmaavat release: Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh urge SC to reconsider its earlier order; hearing tomorrow

BJP-ruled Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh state governments on Monday moved the Supreme Court for a recall of its January 18 order allowing the nationwide release of Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s controversial movie, ‘Padmaavat’, on January 25. The film’s release, earlier slated for December last year, was put on hold following fierce protests by Rajput groups.

Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Viacom 18, the producer of the movie, opposed any urgent hearing on any such interim application. A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud, however, agreed to hear the plea on Tuesday.

The two state governments want the apex court to modify its ruling while claiming that states are empowered under the Cinematograph Act to stop the screening of a movie on grounds of law and order.

The apex court, in its January 18 order, paved the way for a pan-India release of ‘Padmaavat’ by staying the ban on its screening in Gujarat and Rajasthan. It also restrained other states from issuing any such notification or order banning the screening of the movie.

The Supreme Court also maintained that the states were under constitutional obligation to maintain law and order. It said this duty also includes providing police protection to persons who are involved in the film, its exhibition and the audience watching it.

While Haryana and Madhya Pradesh governments have not issued any formal order so far, they have said the screening of the film won’t be allowed in these states.

There has been raging protests by Shri Rashtriya Rajput Karni Sena across Rajasthan and Gujarat. On Monday, protesters opposed to the release of the movie Padmaavat burned three buses and damaged the window panes of at least six more buses in different parts of Mehsana district. The film has been in controversy ever since the declaration of its star cast. The Karni Sena and Rajput royal family has had reservations regarding the portrayal of Rani Padmavati played by Deepika Padukone in the film.

In spite of filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s on-record clarifications, the Karni Sena has been speculating about the possibility of intimate scenes in a dream sequence between Rani Padmavati and Sultan Alauddin Khilji essayed by Ranveer Singh. The producers have denied the claims stating there’s not even a single frame where Rani Padmavati and Khilji appear on-screen. Karni Sena chief Lokendra Singh Kalvi has threatened a nation-wide mutiny if the film gets released. The Karni Sena has also threatened that it would not allow CBFC chief Prasoon Joshi to enter Rajasthan since, the latter gave clearance to Padmaavat.