The Supreme Court on Thursday imposed Rs 20 lakh fine on the West Bengal government for "virtual" banning of the satirical film "Bhobishyoter Bhoot" in the state.
A bench headed by Justice D Y Chandrachud said the fine amount should be given to producers and cinema hall owners as compensation for violation of their right to freedom of speech and expression.
The apex court was hearing a plea filed by Indibily Creative Pvt Ltd and others seeking a direction to the state government and its departments including the Home as also the Police Commissioner to refrain from causing any obstruction to the unhindered exhibition of the film.
On March 15, the top court directed the Mamata Banerjee government to ensure that no obstruction or restraint of any kind was imposed on the screening of the movie.
Besides, it directed the chief secretary, principal secretary, Department of Home and the Director General of Police of West Bengal to ensure that adequate arrangements for security are made to facilitate the screening of the film.
It had also asked them to ensure that the viewers and the audience were not endangered and "there was no danger to the property of the theatres where the film was being or will be screened".
The film was certified for public viewing by the Central Board of Film Certification on November 19, 2018. It has a U/A certification.
A communication was received by one of the producers of the movie from the Special Branch of West Bengal Police that the contents of the film may hurt public sentiments which may lead to political law and order issues.
The petition had said that that the film has been taken down from a majority of theatres, and out of 48 exhibitors, only two were presently displaying the film. The film, directed by Anik Dutta, was released on February 15.
It was withdrawn from single-screen theatres and multiplexes a day after its release on February 16. The story of the film revolves around a group of ghosts, including a politician, who assemble at a refugee camp and try to be relevant in contemporary times.
The film has Sabyasachi Chakraborty, Moon Moon Sen, Kaushik Sen and, veterans Barun Chanda and Paran Bandyopadhyay in leading roles.