#India- Victory for freedom for freedom of expression #FOE #judgement

By T S Sekaran – CHENNAI

24th January 2013 0

In an important judgment having far-reaching consequences, the Madras High Court has declared unconstitutional certain provisions of the TN Dramatic Performances Act and Rules, which mandated censorship of drama scripts by the police/district administration.

Justice K Chandru declared sections 2(1), 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Act and 4 of the Rules,  while allowing a writ petition from journalist, writer, stage actor and director NS Sankaran alias Gnani, on Wednesday.

The Act was originally introduced by the British regime way back in 1876 to gag the freedom fighters and patriots. After Independence, on coming to know that the pre-constitutional 1876 Act would not pass the constitutional test under Article 13 of the Constitution, many governments introduced their own version of censorship of plays. And the TN government introduced the TN Dramatic Performances Act in 1954.

As per the Act, two copies of the drama script should be submitted to the police/district administration three weeks in advance. Permission to enact the drama might be either denied or granted after removing certain dialogues. The Act also provided for imprisonment for three months or fine or both in some cases for any violation.

Gnani contended that the authorities concerned were neither artistes nor persons having aesthetic sense to judge whether a play contained objectionable scenes/dialogues and hence it was uncalled for. The decision was conveyed at the eleventh hour leaving no time to make alternative arrangements.

Advocate General A Navaneethakrishnan submitted that the government was agreeable to provide a provision in the Act and the Rules making it mandatory for forwarding the script to the TN Iyal Isai Nataka Mandram for better appreciation of artistic nuances. There was also a provision in the Act to appeal before the HC, he added.

Justice Chandru observed that a defective order could not be cured in an appeal. When the play was sought to be enacted in a public place, time was the essential factor. But, the Act did not specify any time limit for approval. AG’s submission that the script could be referred to the Nataka Mandram did not merit any legal acceptance as the act did not contemplate any such requirement from an outside agency for opinion.

The opinion would not be binding on the authority and it would only remain as an advisory. By making an amendment to the Rule, the defect could not be cured. Once it was found that the provisions of the Act were arbitrary and excessive power had been given to the delegates, certainly it had to be held that it was unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. In the absence of statutory backing, no such mechanism could be introduced by the State, the judge said and declared the sections as ultra vires of the Constitution.


Anti-Nuke activists ask the Nation- Do we have a Right to Question Govt Policies peacefully ?

Idinthakarai Update, March 27, 2012
Greetings! Ayya Pazha. Nedumaran, Vaiko, Thirumavalavan, Seeman, journalist Gnani and many many more good hearts have been asking us to stop the fast unto death immediately. Pushparayan, 13 of our comrades and I have been very very tired; three women fainted and were hospitalized yesterday.  Rayan and I have some pain on our stomachs; and I have been feeling a bit dizzy. The government medical team checked on our health and found out that my pulse rate had come down. They wanted me to go to a nearby town for tertiary medical care but I refused to do that.
We have been asking the government to talk to us and this has taken 9 days for them to depute the District Collector for talks. People have chosen ten representatives from ten coastal and interior villages to go and talk to the Collector.
In the meantime, the police have charged all the 178 people from Koottapuli village with more serious case such as ‘waging war against the State’ and denied us the opportunity to take them out on bail.  Similarly, the other friends who are locked up in Cuddalur prison have also been re-arrested in more serious cases. The Indian State is hell bent on destroying us and sending a lesson to all the anti-nuclear, anti-globalization and other anti-government protestors around the country. The governments would pass all kinds of pro-foreigner and anti-Indian bills on crucial issues such as Food Security, Water, FDI on retail business and undertake dangerous anti-Nature and anti-Future projects and we all should keep quiet and fall in line.
The simple question we want to ask all our Indian brothers and sisters is this: do we, Indian citizens, still have the right to oppose the government’s policies, programs and projects peacefully and democratically? If so, why does the Indian State want to destroy us all with cases of sedition, waging war against the State and so forth?
We have been fighting nonviolently without even a single case of violence or terror. We have not harmed or hurt or killed anybody; we have not damaged any private or public property. Then why are we being treated like this by the Indian State? Is it because our people are poor, lower caste, or most of them belong to minority communities such as Christians and Muslims? Please think of this.
What kind of message is this brutal behavior of the State sending to our youth? They cannot use either violence or nonviolence to demand their rights and entitlements; they should not complain about anything and simply help the rich become richer.
Some 70 percent of our people are poor; more than 50 percent of our people do not have toilets and basic human dignity; and some 46 percent of our infants are born malnourished and under-weight. Most of the political leaders, bureaucrats, scientists, military leaders and businessmen are robbing the people mercilessly. They are hoarding their ill-gotten wealth in Swiss banks; and they steal not just in lakhs or crores but in lakhs of crores. The poor people of India do not have even two square meals, and safe drinking water.
It is high time we, the people of India, stood up and took our country back! Cooperatively, peacefully, nonviolently and democratically! Before it is too late and we are re-colonized by Russians, Americans, the French and others.
Please save us from the cruel grip of the Indian State. We thank all our brothers and sisters who are already doing this all over the country. We need more people and more actions.
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