The Supreme Court on March 25, 2019, in the case of Indibily Creative Pvt. Ltd. & Ors. v. Govt. Of West Bengal & Ors.,came down heavily on the West Bengal Government for putting an unofficial ban on the screening of the film “Bhobishyoter Bhoot” within the limits of Kolkata.
A Bench comprising of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice Hemant Gupta was hearing a petition filed by the producers of the film being aggrieved by the communication of Joint Commissioner of Police (Intelligence), Special Branch, Kolkata on February 11, 2019, compelling exhibitors to stop the screening of the film.
According to reports, Anik Dutta the director of the film has mocked political parties and ideologies across the board – from the cow politics of the BJP and the RSS, to the Marxism government in Bengal, to radical Islam in the film.
In an interim order passed on March 15, 2019, the court had directed the West Bengal Government to ensure that the screening of the film "Bhobishyoter Bhoot" takes place without unlawful obstruction. The order was passed when it was brought to the court’s notice by the producers of the film that the film was taken off from the theaters following an 'unofficial ban' by the West Bengal Government.
The Bench taking into consideration the fact that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) has already certified the film for public viewing has said that "The State of West Bengal is duty bound, once the film has been certified by the Central Board of Film Certification ("CBFC") to take necessary measures to protect the fundamental right to free speech and expression of the producer and the director and, for that matter, of the viewers to see the film unrestrained by extra-constitutional restraints."
Accordingly, the Bench directed the Joint Commissioner of Police to forthwith withdraw the communication that was addressed by him to the producer of the film. It also directed the Principal Secretary, Department of Home, Government of West Bengal and the Director General of Police to immediately issue communications to all the theaters where film was being originally screened intimating them that there is no ban on the screening of the film.
Further, the Bench also directed the state to comply with the order passed on March 15, 2019, and to take necessary steps for protecting the properties of the theater owners and the safety of the members of the public who wish to view the film.