Madras HC dismisses PIL against ‘Mersal’; says free speech is for all


Chennai, October 27

The Madras High Court on Friday dismissed a petition that wanted Central Board of Film Certification’s certificate to Tamil actor Vijay’s movie ‘Mersal’ revoked saying that doing so would violate free speech.”This is a democracy and people have their right to freedom of expression, and this applies to films as well,” a Division Bench of Justices MM Sundresh and M Sundar said as they dismissed the petition, which was a Public Interest Litigation. “Even today the media has reported that the Leader of Opposition in the state has criticised demonetisation. Can the court pass a gag order against him from making such statements?”The petitioner, an advocate named A Ashvathaman, wanted the films certificate revoked on the ground that it showed the central government’s Goods and Services Tax policy in bad light — an argument that the Tamil Nadu’s unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party has also raised — and was against the interests of the country’s sovereignty, integrity and  security.The petitioner said that “the false information” that the movie disseminated about the tax as well as the central government’s pet Digital India project would likely encourage people to evade taxes. “The film was full of wrong propaganda about India and fake dialogues and scenes which obviously lead to misconception about the new taxation system (Goods and Service Tax).”    Vijay’s movie ‘Mersal’ has been in the centre of a raging controversy ever since its release on October 18. The controversy, which began with the BJP’s objection to the GST and Digital India, took a communal turn when the BJP’s national secretary H Raja posted the actor’s voter ID on Twitter and used his full Christian name — Joseph Vijay — to say that the film revealed his “anti-Modi hatred”.  The BJP’s actions since have drawn severe criticism from both Vijay’s fans as well as the party’s critics. PTI/ Agencies