Manohar Lal Sharma v. Sanjay Leela Bhansali & ors. – Apex Court

The Certification of movie ‘Padmavati’ and its release have sparked anger across the country. Different matters and complaints have been filed before various Courts and authorities. In an order dated 20 November, 2017, the Hon’ble Apex Court noted that that the film in question, i.e., ‘Padmavati’ has not yet received the Certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification.  Pleadings in a court are not meant to create any kind of disharmony in the society which believes in the conceptual unity among diversity.

In Manohar Lal Sharma  v. Sanjay Leela Bhansali & ors., on November 28, 2017, Full Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court dealt with questions regarding movie ‘Padmavati’. The Bench comprised of CJI Dipak Misra;  Justice A.M. Khanwilkar and Justice Dr. D.Y. Chandrachud.

The petition filed under Article 32, Constitution of India had two prayers –

(a)  that  film titled “Padmavati” should not be exhibited in other countries without obtaining the requisite
certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) under the Cinematograph Act, 1952 (and the Rules and guidelines framed thereunder and ;

(b)  further to issue a writ of mandamus to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to register an FIR against Sanjay Leela Bhansali and his team members for offence punishable under :

  • Section 7 of the Act, Cinematograph Act, 1952 read with
  • Sections 153A, 295, 295A, 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986 and

to investigate and prosecute them in accordance with law.

Observations of the Court

  • When a matter is pending or going to be dealt with by the CBFC, no one who is holding any post of public responsibility should comment on how the application for certification is to be processed. That tantamounts to creating a sense of prejudice in the mind of the CBFC. The CBFC is expected to take decisions with utmost objectivity as per the provisions contained in the Act, the rules framed thereunder and the guidelines. If the Court cannot pre-judge the matter before the CBFC takes a decision, we fail to comprehend how anyone in public office can pre-judge the issue and make public utterances. (Para 9)
  • When the matter is pending for grant of certification, if responsible people in power or public offices
    comment on the issue of certification pending consideration before the statutory authority, that is a violation of the rule of law. All concerned shall be guided by the basic premise of the rule of law and ought not to venture into violating the same. (Para 9)
  • No right is absolute but the fetters for enjoying the rights should be absolutely reasonable more so when it relates to the right to freedom of speech and expression and right to liberty. The Court has to see what kinds of fetters are being imposed and the impact of the same. (Para 16)


The Court dismissed the petition without any costs , petitioner-in-person being a practising counsel in the Supreme Court. The Court cautioned him to be careful in future.

Image from here


L&P Editorial Team

The Law & Practice Blog's editorial team.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.