Supreme Court stays release of ‘Hamare Baarah’, says film’s teaser is ‘so offensive’

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the theatrical release of the film Hamare Baarah, which has been accused of containing anti-Muslim tropes, until the the Bombay High Court rules on a petition challenging the movie’s release, reported Live Law.

The court, while passing the direction on an earlier High Court order permitting the film’s release, observed that its teaser was offensive enough to warrant concern over the contents of the full movie.

Hamare Baarah, directed by Kamal Chandra, was to be released on Friday.

The petition filed in the High Court had alleged that the film, which was earlier set to release on June 7, was derogatory to the Islamic faith and married Muslim women in India, adding that the trailer also misquoted a verse in the Quran.

It added that the release of the film would violate Article 19(2) of the Constitution pertaining to reasonable restrictions in the interests of security and sovereignty, and Article 25 of the Constitution pertaining to one’s freedom to profess, practice and propagate their religion.

The petition had sought a direction from the High Court to the Central Board of Film Certification to revoke the film’s certification and restrain its release.

The censor board, however, told the High Court that the certification for the film was granted after following procedures and that any objectionable scenes and dialogues had been deleted. It said that snippets of the film released on various platforms were not certified trailers.

The High Court had initially found a prima facie case in favour of the petitioner and stayed the release of film till June 14, Live Law reported.

It then directed the censor board to form a review committee to watch the film and give its feedback. However, the panel sought time to file a detailed response and the High Court subsequently permitted the release of the film.

The petitioner then moved the Supreme Court challenging its release.

On Thursday, the petitioner, represented by advocate Fauzia Shakil, told the bench that the High Court had directed the Central Board of Film Certification, which is an “interested party”, to form the panel, Bar and Bench reported.

In response, the counsel for the filmmaker said that the objectionable scenes were removed from the teasers of the film. However, the bench rejected the claim and said: “We saw the teaser today morning and all scenes are there”.

The court also added that the “teaser is so offensive that the High Court granted [initially] an interim order [against the film’s release],” Live Law reported.

The counsel for the filmmaker also said that losses would be incurred because of the stay order. The bench responded: “If teaser is so offensive then what about the whole movie?”

The bench then asked the High Court to decide on the merits of the case and stayed the film. It also granted the petitioner the liberty to make objections regarding the constitution of the censor board’s review committee, Live Law reported.

This came after the Karnataka government on June 5 barred the release of the film for two weeks on the grounds that it posed “possibilities of communal riots”.

The government was responding to petitions moved by several Muslim organisations alleging that Hamare Baarah showcased the community in a “provocative and insulting manner”.

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