The Mumbai High Court came down heavily on the government saying that it was “distressing” to note that a film could not be released “because of continued threats”.
On Thursday, they also said India was cutting a “very sorry figure” as people could not “voice their opinions”. The division bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and Bharti Dangre was referring to Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s film Padmavati. “Here, we have a situation in which a chief minister says he will not allow the film to be released. Tomorrow, people will not be able to convene meetings and express their views. In which other countries are artists and performers threatened? It is distressing to know that a person makes a feature film and several people work tirelessly towards it, but (he) is not able to release the film because of continued threats. What have we come to?” said the bench.
Referring to the threats received by Deepika Padukone, the lead actress of Padmavati, the court said, “Today, somebody says I will give a reward to anyone who kills an actress. People are taking pride in saying we will give reward to those who will kill an actress… In this country, we have come to a situation where people cannot voice their opinions. What concerns us is India’s image and reputation as a democratic country. We are the largest democracy. We cannot take pride in the happenings of such incidents day in and day out. We are cutting a very sorry figure,” said Justice Dharmadhikari.
The bench was hearing petitions filed by relatives of Narendra Dabholkar and Govind Pansare, expressing unhappiness with the investigations into their deaths. Dabholkar was shot in Pune in August 2013, while Pansare was shot in Kolhapur in February 2015.