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'Dissent is the quintessence of democracy'

The March 2011 judgment of the Delhi High Court on the censorship of Had Anhad, a documentary on the legacy of Kabir, outlines the broad principles governing censorship in India and makes a strong case for the right of the viewer/reader to think autonomously while reacting to the speaker/filmmaker, and to make informed choices without being controlled by the state. For “stability in society can only be promoted by introspection into social reality, however grim it be”

The following are excerpts from the Delhi High Court judgment of March 9, 2011, in the case of Srishti School of Art, Design and Technology versus the Central Board of Film Certification. The judgment was delivered by Justice S Muralidhar.

The petitioner, producers of a documentary film Had Anhad (Bounded-Boundless), challenged an order dated May 28, 2010, of the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) upholding three of the four excisions ordered by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) by its order dated November 5, 2009, while granting the film a V/U certificate.

Had Anhad is part of a series of four films made by filmmaker Shabnam Virmani around the legacy and teachings of the 15th century poet-philosopher Kabir. The film begins in Ayodhya, where shopkeepers still sell VCDs of the demolition of the Babri Masjid that took place on December 6, 1992, asking them why, when Kabir says that Ram resides in each body Ram needs “this temple”. The film then moves to Malwa in central India where in Lunyakhedi village, popular Kabir folk singer Prahlad Tipanya discusses how Kabir’s Ram is not only the son of King Dashrath, the husband of Sita or the killer of Ravana but also the light that permeates all and resides in each body. From there the film takes viewers to Rajasthan and then to Benares where the different versions of Kabir’s birth and life are narrated by Muslims belonging to the weaver community, by a train ticket collector and a mahant of the Dharamdasi Kabir Panth at Damakheda in Chhattisgarh. Then the filmmaker moves to Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh. “Kabir seems to push me to question the borders of my identity -- where I draw the line, where I build my walls,” she says. She travels to the Wagah border separating India and Pakistan and finally to Pakistan where she meets leading qawwals who sing Kabir’s songs, discovering a Ram and Kabir “beyond borders”.

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“The constitutional right of free expression is powerful medicine in a society as diverse and populous as ours. It is designed and intended to remove governmental restraints from the arena of public discussion, putting the decision as to what views shall be voiced largely into the hands of each of us, in the hope that use of such freedom will ultimately produce a more capable citizenry and more perfect polity and in the belief that no other approach would comport with the premise of individual dignity and choice upon which our political system rests.” (Justice Harlan in Cohen v California 403 US 15 [1971])

I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to death your right to say it.” (Attributed to Voltaire in S G Tallentyre, The Friends of Voltaire [1907])

Broad principles governing censorship

6.1 In the several decisions handed down involving the censoring of documentary and feature films, the Supreme Court has interpreted the provisions of the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (CA), the Guidelines under Section 5-B thereof in light of Articles 19 (1) (a) and 19 (2) of the Constitution of India. One of the early cases on film censorship decided by the Supreme Court was K A Abbas v Union of India AIR 1971 SC 481. The film in question was a documentary titled A Tale of Four Cities. The court held that “censorship of films including prior restraint is justified under our Constitution” and proceeded to explain (AIR, p 498):

 “The task of the censor is extremely delicate and his duties cannot be the subject of an exhaustive set of commands established by prior ratiocination. But direction is necessary to him so that he does not sweep within the terms of the directions vast areas of thought, speech and expression of artistic quality and social purpose and interest. Our standards must be so framed that we are not reduced to a level where the protection of the least capable and the most depraved amongst us determines what the morally healthy cannot view or read. The standards that we set for our censors must make a substantial allowance in favour of freedom thus leaving a vast area for creative art to interpret life and society with some of its foibles along with what is good. We must not look upon such human relationships as banned in toto and forever from human thought and must give scope for talent to put them before society. The requirements of art and literature include within themselves a comprehensive view of social life and not only in its ideal form, and the line is to be drawn where the average man or moral man begins to feel embarrassed or disgusted at a naked portrayal of life without the redeeming touch of art or genius or social value. If the depraved begins to see in these things more than what an average person would, in much the same way, as it is wrongly said, a Frenchman sees a woman’s legs in everything, it cannot be helped. In our scheme of things ideas having redeeming social or artistic value must also have importance and protection for their growth.” (emphasis added)

6.3. In Ramesh v Union of India AIR 1988 SC 775, the challenge was to the telecast of a film Tamas which depicted the violence, killing and looting that took place during the partition of the country. The Supreme Court agreed with the observations of Justice Vivian Bose in Bhagwati Charan Shukla v Provincial Government AIR 1947 Nag 1 that (AIR, p 778): “…the effect of the words must be judged from the standards of reasonable, strong minded, firm and courageous men, and not those of weak and vacillating minds, nor of those who scent danger in every hostile point of view.”

6.4 It was further observed (AIR, p 781): “If some scenes of violence, some nuances of expression or some events in the film can stir up certain feelings in the spectator, an equally deep, strong, lasting and beneficial impression can be conveyed by scenes revealing the machinations of selfish interests, scenes depicting mutual respect and tolerance, scenes showing comradeship, help and kindness which transcend the barriers in religion.”

6.5 It was held that “viewed in its entirety” the film was “capable of creating a lasting impression of this message of peace and co-existence and that people are not likely to be obsessed, overwhelmed or carried away by the scenes of violence or fanaticism shown in the film.”

6.6 In S Rangarajan v P Jagjivan Ram (1989) 2 SCC 574, it was explained (SCC, p 599): “Freedom of expression which is legitimate and constitutionally protected cannot be held to ransom by an intolerant group of people. The fundamental freedom under Article 19 (1) (a) can be reasonably restricted only for the purposes mentioned in Article 19 (2) and the restriction must be justified on the anvil of necessity and not the quicksand of convenience or expediency. Open criticism of government policies and operations is not a ground for restricting expression. We must practise tolerance to the views of others. Intolerance is as much dangerous to democracy as to the person himself.”

6.7 In Life Insurance Corporation of India v Prof Manubhai D Shah (1992) 3 SCC 637, the Supreme Court underscored that the restrictions in Article 19 (2) on the freedom under Article 19 (1) (a) had to be interpreted strictly and narrowly. It was held (SCC, pp 664-665): “But since permissible restrictions, albeit reasonable, are all the same restrictions on the exercise of the fundamental right under Article 19 (1) (a), such restrictions are bound to be viewed as anathema, in that they are in the nature of curbs or limitations on the exercise of the right and are, therefore, bound to be viewed with suspicion, thereby throwing a heavy burden on the authorities that seek to impose them. The burden would, therefore, heavily lie on the authorities that seek to impose them to show that the restrictions are reasonable and permissible in law.”

6.8 The broad principles enunciated in the above decisions provide the backdrop against which the excisions directed by the CBFC and affirmed by the FCAT require to be examined.

The first excision

8. The film opens with the statement on the screen that Kabir was a 15th century mystic poet of north India who defied the boundaries between Hindus and Muslims. Kabir had a Muslim name and upbringing, but his poetry repeatedly invoked the widely revered Hindu name of God -- Ram. The question “Who is Kabir’s Ram?” appears on the screen, followed by the text: “This film journeys through song and poem into the politics of religion, and finds a myriad answers on both sides of the hostile border between India and Pakistan.

9. There are then plates that appear on the screen explaining the backdrop of the film. The opening plate reads: “For centuries, fundamentalist forces amongst Muslims and Hindus have stoked divisive religious politics between the two communities in the Indian sub-continent. Ram is one of the most popular deities in Hindu religious traditions. He was the legendary king of Ayodhya in ancient India; hero of the epic Ramayana. In recent Indian politics, Ram has been invoked by certain groups to consolidate Hindu identity and votes in divisive opposition to Muslims living in India and the neighbouring Islamic state of Pakistan. It is in this backdrop that this film unfolds, in search of the “Ram” invoked in the poetry of Kabir, a popular mystic poet of 15th century north India.”

10. One of the first excisions ordered by the CBFC was that the words “Muslims living in India and the neighbouring Islamic state of Pakistan” should be deleted as it violates Guidelines 2 (xii), 2 (xiii) and 2 (xvi) formulated by the Government of India in the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B) by a Notification dated January 7, 1978, under Section 5-B (2) CA. Guideline 2 (xii) requires the CBFC to ensure that “visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups are not presented”. Guideline 2 (xiii) requires the CBFC to ensure that “visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes are not presented” and Guideline 2 (xvi) requires it to ensure that “friendly relations with foreign states are not strained”.

11. By the impugned order dated May 28, 2010, the FCAT has disagreed with the CBFC on the above excision and to that extent allowed the petitioner’s appeal. The present petition is therefore concerned with the other three excisions that have been upheld by the FCAT.

The second excision

12. The filmmaker’s narration appears hereafter on screen as text. It reads: “In 2003, I set out in search of Kabir. Why Kabir? What made me want to search for a 15th century mystic poet today? Maybe turning to Kabir was a turning away from Ram… …that militant Ram used to stoke Hindu-Muslim hatred in India today. But then, I found a Ram in Kabir too. And their stories began to unfold through the fog of history and politics, intertwined.”

13. The CBFC ordered the excision of the words “militant Ram” on the ground that it violates Guideline 2 (xii). The FCAT while discussing this excision observed in para 17 of its order:

“17. It is common knowledge that the Christian, Islam and Hindi religion are very old. The question of a “militant Ram” stoking ill-will between Hindus and Muslims does not arise. Therefore, wherever including in the title card there is reference to “militant Ram” and such similar ideas/words, the words have to be deleted. It is also recommended by CBFC. Guideline 2 (xii) is not applicable because it is factually incorrect. During Shri Ram’s times there was no Islam and Shri Ram was a man of peace and was forced to battle with Ravana to save his wife. Lord Rama was not a man of war and returned to Ayodhya as soon as his wife was freed. Serial No 2 stands decided.”

14. It has been urged by Mr Jawahar Raja, learned counsel for the petitioner that in directing the second excision the CBFC, and the FCAT which upheld it, failed to appreciate the context in which the said words occur. It is urged that the film has to be viewed as a whole in order to understand what the central theme of the film is. Reliance has been placed on a large number of judgments which will be discussed hereafter. Mr Ashish Kumar Srivastava, learned counsel for the respondent, on the other hand, reiterated what has been observed in the impugned order of the FCAT. As regards the excision of the phrase “militant Ram” it was suggested that “the same meaning can be conveyed by using the word ‘Ram’ instead of “militant Ram”.

15. In the first place, the law is clear that words or visuals in a film have to be viewed in the context of the whole film. They ought not to be viewed in isolation. It appears that in coming to the conclusion they did on the second excision, neither the CBFC nor the FCAT kept this principle in view. Gopal Vinayak Godse v Union of India AIR 1971 Bom 56, a decision rendered by a Full Bench of the Bombay High Court concerned the validity of the ban on the Marathi novel Gandhi-hatya Ani Mee authored by the petitioner which purportedly contained passages and words that were allegedly distortions of history and promoted feelings of communal hatred. The Bombay High Court struck down the ban. Speaking for the court, Chandrachud J (as he then was) underscored the importance of considering the offending passages in the context of the entire book. He observed (AIR, p 82): “We find ourselves wholly unable to take the view that the several passages on which the learned advocate general relies are capable of promoting feelings of enmity and hatred between Hindus and Muslims in India. A passage here or a passage there, sentence here or a sentence there, a word similarly, may if strained and torn out of context supply inflammatory matter to a willing mind. But such a process is impermissible. We must read the book as a whole, we must not ignore the context of a passage and we must try and see what, reasonably, would be the reaction of the common reader. If the offending passages are considered in this light, the book shall have to be cleared of the charge levelled against it.” (emphasis added)

16. The ratio of the said decision would in the view of this court equally apply to words and visuals in a film.

17. On the second excision, the FCAT’s approach is intriguing. If Guideline 2 (xii) is not applicable as held by the FCAT then the CBFC’s conclusion that these words are “contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups” obviously cannot be sustained. Secondly, the FCAT was not called upon to decide the tenability of the understanding of the filmmaker as regards the projection by certain others of Ram to justify acts of violence. The observations in para 17 of the impugned order of the FCAT about who Lord Ram was and what he did was unnecessary. One may agree or disagree with the filmmaker’s position but the issue is whether she has a right to express her point of view irrespective of its “acceptability” to the viewer or for that matter to the CBFC or the FCAT. To recall the lines from the famous dissent of Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in United States v Schwimmer 279 US 644 (1929) (at 655): “…if there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought -- not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.” The constitutional framework of the freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution provides democratic space to a citizen to put forth a view which may be unacceptable to others but does not on that score alone become vulnerable to excision by way of censorship. Thirdly, the excision ordered makes little sense. If in the sentence, “May be turning to Kabir was a turning away from Ram… that militant Ram used to stoke Hindu-Muslim hatred in India today,” the phrase “militant Ram” is replaced by “Ram”, the sentence would read: “May be turning to Kabir was a turning away from Ram… that Ram used to stoke Hindu-Muslim hatred in India today.” This not only mutilates the meaning of the sentence but perhaps renders it more objectionable from the point of view of the CBFC. In any event in the context of the entire sentence, and in the backdrop of the film when viewed as a whole, the words “militant Ram” do not represent the filmmaker’s view of Ram. It is her comment on how certain others have projected Ram to stoke religious hatred. In fact, she makes it clear that she does not subscribe to this viewpoint when she says soon thereafter: “But then, I found a Ram in Kabir too.” The conclusion that the phrase which has been ordered to be excised violates Guideline 2 (xii) is legally untenable.

The third excision

18. The third excision directed is of the entire visuals relating to the demolition of the Babri Masjid and the words beginning with “Hamare Purvaj Ke Janm Bhumi…” up to “…thakathse milenge”. The above excision has been upheld by the FCAT by simply stating as under in para 18 of the impugned order: “18. The tribunal has no hesitation in upholding the deletion of the words and visuals relating to Babri Masjid demolition. The appellant would delete the entire chapter on Ayodhya since there is gross violation of guideline 2 (xiii), (xv), (xvii), indicated at serial no 3 in the CBFC impugned order. The words and visuals promote communal and anti-national attitudes.”

22. Guideline 2 (xiii) requires the CBFC to ensure that the film does not present “visuals or words which promote communal, obscurantist, anti-scientific and anti-national attitudes”. Guideline 2 (xv) requires it to ensure that “the security of the state is not jeopardised or endangered” and Guideline 2 (xvii) requires the CBFC to ensure that “public order is not endangered”. The burden of showing that the visuals and words presented in the film “promote” communal or anti-national attitudes is definitely on the state. The visuals and words presented in the film cannot be viewed in isolation. They have to be viewed as part of the whole film. When so viewed they have to be shown to “promote” communal or anti-national attitudes. Likewise, the burden on the state to show that the film as a whole “jeopardises the security of the state” or that it “endangers” public order is indeed a heavy one. Mere apprehension of danger to law and order is hardly sufficient. Neither the CBFC nor the FCAT have in their impugned orders cared to explain why they conclude that Guidelines 2 (xiii), 2 (xv) and 2 (xvii) have been violated.

23. The freedom of the citizen’s speech and expression under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution may not be absolute, but the restrictions thereon under Article 19 (2) have to be narrowly construed. As explained in Life Insurance Corporation of India v Prof Manubhai D Shah (supra) the burden is on the state to show that the benefit from restricting the freedom is far greater than the perceived harm resulting from the speech or depiction. The state has to ensure that the restrictions do not rule out legitimate speech and that the benefit to the protected interest outweighs the harm to the freedom of expression. Justice Harlan in Cohen v California (supra) pertinently asked: “Surely the state has no right to cleanse public debate to the point where it is grammatically palatable to the most squeamish among us?”

24.1 The broad principle that the film has to be viewed as a whole before adjudging whether a particular scene or visual offends any of the guidelines has been reiterated in a large number of decisions of the Supreme Court, some of which have been referred to earlier. They have been followed by the high courts in adjudging the validity of censorship directions concerning documentary films. Some of these decisions will be discussed hereafter.

24.2 Documentary filmmaker Anand Patwardhan approached the Bombay High Court against the decision of the Prasar Bharti Board not to screen his documentary film Father, Son and Holy War. The Bombay High Court allowed his writ petition against which Doordarshan appealed to the Supreme Court. In Director General, Directorate General of Doordarshan v Anand Patwardhan AIR 2006 SC 3346, the Supreme Court confirmed the decision of the Bombay High Court and observed that the film no doubt dealt with communal violence but the attempt of the filmmaker was to portray the miseries of innocent victims of communal riots. It was observed (AIR, pp 3350-3351): “The message of the filmmaker cannot be gathered by viewing only certain portions of the film in isolation but one has to view it as a whole. There are scenes of violence, social injustice but the film by no stretch of imagination can be said to subscribe to the same. They are meant to convey that such social evils are evil. There cannot be any apprehension that it is likely to affect public order or it is likely to incite commission of an offence.”

24.3 It was further observed (AIR, p. 3353): “the correct approach to be taken here is to look at the documentary film as a whole and not in bits, as any message that is purported to be conveyed by way of a film cannot be conveyed just by watching certain bits of the film. In the present situation the documentary film is seeking to portray certain evils prevalent in our society and is not seeking to cater to the prurient interests in any person. Therefore, we have no hesitation in saying that this documentary film if judged in its entirety has a theme and message to convey and the view taken by the appellants that the film is not suitable for telecast is erroneous.”

25. When Had Anhad is viewed as a whole, the sequences (visuals and words) concerning the conversations in Ayodhya in the backdrop of the television screen showing the VCD on the Babri Masjid demolition do not in any manner violate any of the three guidelines -- 2 (xiii), 2 (xv) and 2 (xvii). A deconstruction of those sequences shows how the film operates at different levels of speech and expression of the protagonists, the filmmaker and the viewer. At the first level, the film (and the filmmaker) captures the points of view of those speaking in front of the camera. At another level, the filmmaker enters into a conversation with the speaker and the viewer gets to watch this interplay. At yet another level, the filmmaker communicates to the viewer her reaction to the conversation. Then we have the viewer who is reacting to all of the above and dialoguing or discussing albeit silently with the protagonists and the filmmaker by agreeing or disagreeing with one or the other or partly with one and partly with the other. Involved here then are different facets of speech and expression. The right to speak, to disseminate, to argue, to debate, to witness, to react, to ignore, to engage in dialogue, to discuss, to agree, to disagree, to form and hold opinions. These different facets are integral to the freedom of speech and expression in Article 19 (1) (a). A non-fiction film provides the democratic space that permits the viewer, without having to suspend disbelief, to receive ideas, to be provoked, and to participate in a discussion. This right of the viewer to think autonomously while reacting to the speaker or the filmmaker, and to make informed choices, without being controlled by the state, also constitutes an integral part of the freedom of speech and expression. This aspect has been brought out in some of the decisions of the Israel Supreme Court which will be now discussed.

26. In Israel Film Studios Ltd v Gerry (1962) Isr SC 15 2407 (at 2416), the Israel Supreme Court was examining the justification of censoring a portion of a short film showing an eviction from the Somail suburb of Tel Aviv. The reason for disallowing the said portion, inter alia, was that it did not present the problem in its entirety. The Supreme Court of Israel reversed the decision of the censors. Speaking for the court, Justice Landau pointed out: “A sovereign arrogating for itself the power to determine what the citizen should know will ultimately determine what the citizen should think; nothing constitutes a greater contradiction of true democracy, which is not “directed from above”. This thought is echoed in an essay titled ‘Sense and Censoribility’ (at http://www.altlawforum.org/law-an-media/publications/sense-and-censoribility visited on February 25, 2011) by legal scholar Lawrence Liang. He points out that the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court “teaches you how you should see the film and a legal theory of spectatorship… it creates a world of reception theory, which plays an important pedagogic role, which is not just about prohibiting a particular view, but also about cultivating a particular view.” Recognising the need to acknowledge the rights of both the “citizen viewer” and the “speaking subject” he says: “The task of censorship is to teach the viewer to become a citizen through particular spectatorial practices, and the imagined gaze of the citizen-viewer determines the specific content of censorship laws.”

27. Had Anhad brings to the fore many of the facets of the freedom of speech and expression. At times the camera is a bystander and lets us view an exchange between two protagonists. At other times the filmmaker herself engages in conversation and elicits the point of view of the speaker or voices her own opinion on the issue. The filmmaker at other times steps back and lets the viewer draw her own conclusions. This is precisely the democratic space that is required to be provided so that the less articulate viewer or the one who has already formed an opinion or has no opinion or has an opposite point of view are all able to appreciate the point of view of the “other” as is essential to all healthy democratic practices. As long as the film provides space for dialogue and discussion of a contentious issue, the “policing” out of a point of view or a visual merely because it is disagreeable to some cannot be justified.

28. The scenes and visuals that constitute the third excision are in one sense a recalling of the memory of an historical event. The recall may be imperfect. It may contradict the collective memory of that historical event. It may revive tensions over the events being recalled. Yet, that by itself does not invite censorial intervention to obliterate the scenes of recall. In Laor v Film and Plays Censorship Board (1987) Isr SC 41 (1) 421 the censor board refused to permit the staging of a play Ephraim Returns to the Army which described events in the occupied territories under Israeli military rule on the ground that it presented a distorted and false image of the military administration. It feared an outburst of “negative feelings against the state” and “severe offence to the feelings of the Jewish public by the implied and explicit comparison between the Israeli regime and the Nazi occupation”. Justice Barak speaking for the court that negatived the ban held: “It is none of the board’s business whether the play reflects reality, or distorts it.” He went on to observe: “Indeed, the passage in the play may offend the feelings of the Jewish public, and is certainly liable to offend the feelings of those with personal experience of the Holocaust. I myself was a child during the Holocaust, and I crossed fences and borders guarded by the German Army smuggling objects on my body. The parallel between the German soldier arresting a child and the Israeli soldier arresting an Arab youngster breaks my heart. Nonetheless, we live in a democratic state, in which this heartbreak is the very heart of democracy.”

30.1 Reverting to Had Anhad, the third excision as directed by the CBFC is on account of the film endangering security of the state and public order. Similar reasons adduced by the CBFC to order cuts in other documentary films have met with judicial disapproval. The feature film Chand Bujh Gaya which depicted the travails of the life of a young couple -- a Hindu boy and a Muslim girl -- whose friendship and lives are torn asunder in riots in the state of Gujarat formed the subject matter of F A Picture International v CBFC AIR 2005 Bom 145. The CBFC refused to certify the film for exhibition and the FCAT confirmed the order. What weighed with the CBFC and FCAT was that the film depicted gruesome communal violence, which, they felt would foment communal disharmony. The CBFC further held that “the Gujarat violence is a live issue and a scar on national sensitivity. Exhibition of the film will certainly aggravate the situation.”

30.2 The Bombay High Court reversed both the decisions of the CBFC and FCAT. It observed that dissent was the quintessence of democracy and that “those who question unquestioned assumptions contribute to the alteration of social norms. Democracy is founded upon respect for their courage. Any attempt by the state to clamp down on the free expression of opinion must hence be frowned upon”. It was then observed that “(f)ilms which deal with controversial issues necessarily have to portray what is controversial. A film which is set in the backdrop of communal violence cannot be expected to eschew a portrayal of violence.”

30.3 As regards depiction of violence in Gujarat, it was observed as under (AIR, pp 149-150): “To say that the violence which took place in the State of Gujarat is a ‘live issue’ and a ‘scar on national sensitivity’ can furnish absolutely no ground for preventing the exhibition of the film. No democracy can countenance a lid of suppression on events in society. The violence which took place in the State of Gujarat has been the subject matter of extensive debate in the press and the media and it is impermissible to conjecture that a film dealing with the issue would aggravate the situation. On the contrary, stability in society can only be promoted by introspection into social reality, however grim it be. Ours, we believe, is a mature democracy. The view of the censor does no credit to the maturity of a democratic society by making an assumption that people would be led to disharmony by a free and open display of a cinematographic theme.”

33. The conclusion that Had Anhad endangers public order is not based on any material available to the CBFC or the FCAT. In this context the decision in S Rangarajan v P Jagjivan Ram (supra) is apposite. Rejecting a similar argument in the said case, the Supreme Court observed as under (SCC, p 595): “Our commitment of freedom of expression demands that it cannot be suppressed unless the situations created by allowing the freedom are pressing and the community interest is endangered. The anticipated danger should not be remote, conjectural or farfetched. It should have proximate and direct nexus with the expression. The expression of thought should be intrinsically dangerous to the public interest. In other words, the expression should be inseparably locked up with the action contemplated like equivalent of a ‘spark in a powder keg’.”

Infochange News & Features, July 2011