NEW DELHI: Taking exception to the West Bengal police objecting to public screening of satirical film ‘Bhobishyoter Bhoot’ and seeking its private screening for a few senior officials despite it being cleared by the Censor Board, the Supreme Court on Monday directed the state authorities to ensure smooth release of the film.

A bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta said the state government is duty-bound to protect the fundamental right to free speech and expression of the film’s producer and director.

It directed the joint commissioner of police to withdraw the communication in which private screening of the film was sought on the ground that “contents of the film may hurt public sentiments and may lead to political law and order issues”. “We are of the view that the joint commissioner of police acted beyond the scope of his legitimate authority in directing the producer to arrange for a private screening. 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,” the bench said.

The court said the state authorities cannot create hurdles in public screening of films after they are certified by CBFC. “We are a free society and this cannot be done,” the court said.

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