Finally the High Court of Andhra Pradesh had to lecture the State Government on why it should not have banned The Da Vinci Code.
Rejecting these arguments, Mr. Justice Raghu Ram, in his 48-page judgment, said, “The Constitution does not confer or tolerate such individualised hyper-sensitive private censor intrusion into and regulation of guaranteed freedom of others.”
Tracing the concept of freedom of speech and expression and its necessity for the blossoming of the human mind, he noted that the Censor Board had cleared the film with appropriate conditions. A film was not like a billboard or hoarding that involuntarily affected innocent passersby. Those who purchased tickets to see the film made a conscious decision, and the state had no role to stop the screening.
Mr. Justice Raghu Ram said the authorities who passed the ban order had not even seen the film. The officer “mechanically certified” the veto of a few objectors rather than arriving at a decision based on informed satisfaction. This was “arbitrary, casual and [a] wholly irrational exercise of a very sensitive and responsible executive power, namely the regulation of a cherished, valued and guaranteed fundamental freedom of expression.”
The judge, who saw the film at a special screening, recalled various works on different interpretations of Jesus Christ.
The court said, “Freedom of speech and expression contributes to the richness and equilibrium of human existence.” Terming the Government’s action wholly negligent and an irresponsible exercise of executive power, the judge directed the Government to pay Rs. 10,000 each to the distributors and Rs. 2,500 to Mr. Reddy. [ A.P. ban on Da Vinci Code quashed]
The movie will now be released in the state, but Congress has proved to its vote bank that it is an upholder of “secularism”