24 September 1970
Supreme Court


Case number: Writ Petition (Civil) 491 of 1969






DATE OF JUDGMENT: 24/09/1970


CITATION:  1971 AIR  481            1971 SCR  (2) 446  1970 SCC  (2) 780  CITATOR INFO :  RF         1973 SC1461  (1709)  R          1980 SC 605  (7)  RF         1988 SC 775  (14,21)

ACT: Constitution  of  India  Article  19(1)  (a)  and   (2)-Pre- censorship  of films-If unconstitutional-Cinematograph  Act, 1952,  s.  5-B-Provisions of-Directions under  s.  5-B(2)-If vague and therefore unconstitutional.

HEADNOTE: The  petitioner  made a documentary film called "A  Tale  of Four Cities" which attempted to portray the contrast between the  life  of the rich and the poor in  the  four  principal cities of the- country.  The film included certain shots  of the  red light district in Bombay.  Although the  petitioner applied  to the Board of Film Censors for a ‘U’  Certificate for  unrestricted exhibition of the film, he was  granted  a certificate only for exhibition restricted to adults.  On an appeal made to it by the petitioner, the Central  Government issued  a direction on July 3, 1969 that a  ‘u’  Certificate may be granted provided certain specified cuts were made  in the  film.   The  petitioner thereafter  field  the  present petition  seeking a declaration that the provisions of  Part 11  of the Cinematograph Act, 1952, together with the  rules prescribed by the Central Government on February 6, 1960  in the exercise of its powers under s. 5-B of the Act were  un- constitutional   and  void;  he  further  prayed  that   the direction  dated  July  3,  1969  should  be  quashed.   The petitioner claimed that his fundamental tight of free speech and  expression  was  denied by the  order  of  the  Central Government and that he was entitled to a ’U’ Certificate for the film as of right. At  the  hearing  of the  petition  the  Central  Government indicated it had ,decided to grant a ’U’ Certificate to  the petitioner’s film without the cuts previously ordered. The petitioner then applied for amendment of the petition so  as toenable him to challenge pre-censorship as offensive  to



freedom of speechand  expression  and  alternatively  the provisions of the Act and the Rules,orders           and directions under the Act as vague, arbitrary and indefinite. The  Court allowed the amendment holding the petitioner  was right  in  contending that a person who invests  capital  in promoting  or producing a film must have clear  guidance  in advance in the matter of censorship of films even if the law of pre-censorship be not violative of the fundamental right. It was contended inter alia on behalf of the petitioner  (a) that pre-censorship itself violated the right to freedom  of speech  and  expression;  and (b) that even  if  it  were  a legitimate restraint on the freedom, it must be exercised on very  definite principles which leave no room for  arbitrary action. HELD : (i) Censorship of films including prior restraint  is justified under the Constitution. It has been almost universally recognised that the treatment of  motion  ,pictures must be different from that  of  other forms of art and expression. 447 This  arises from the instant appeal of the motion  picture, its   versatility,  realism  (often  surrealism),  and   its coordination of the visual and aural senses.  The art of the cameraman,  with  trick photography, vistavision  and  three dimensional representation, has made the cinema picture more true to life than even the theatre or indeed any other  form of  representative art.  The motion picture is able to  stir up emotions more deeply than any other product of art.   Its effect  particularly  on children and  adolescents  is  very great  since  their  immaturity makes  them  more  willingly suspend  their  disbelief than mature men and  women.   They also  remember the action in the picture and try to  emulate or/ imitate what they have seen.  Therefore,  classification of films into two categories of ’U’ films and ’A’ films is a reasonable classification.  It is also for this reason  that motion  pictures  must be regarded  differently  from  other forms of speech and expression.  A person reading a book  or other  writing or bearing a speech or viewing a painting  or sculpture  is  not so deeply stirred as by seeing  a  motion picture.   Therefore  the  treatment  of  the  latter  on  a different footing is also a valid classification. [458 G] (ii)Section 5-B authorises the Central Government to  issue such  directions  as  it  may  think  fit  setting  out  the principles  which  shall guide the  authority  competent  to grant  certificates under the Act in sanctioning  films  for public  exhibition. it cannot be said that this Section  has not  indicated any guidance to the Central Government.   The first  sub-section states the principles and read  with  the second clause of the nineteenth article it is quite  clearly indicated  that the topics of films or their content  should not offend certain matters there set down. A  law cannot be declared void because it is opposed to  the spirit   supposed  to  pervade  the  Constitution  but   not expressed  in  words.   However  it cannot  be  said  as  an absolute  principle that no law will be considered  bad  for sheer vagueness.  The real rule is that if a law is vague or appears to be so, the court must try to construe it, as  far as may be, and language permitting, the construction  sought to be placed on it, must be in accordance with the intention of  the  legislature.  Thus if the law is  open  to  diverse construction, that construction which accords best with  the intention  of  the legislature and advances the  purpose  of legislation,  is  to be preferred.  Where  however  the  law admits  of Do such construction and the persons applying  it are  in  a boundless sea of uncertainty and  the  law  prima



facie takes away a guaranteed freedom, the law must be  held to  offend the Constitution, This is not application of  the doctrine  of  due process.  The invalidity arises  from  the probability of the misuse of the law to the detriment of the individual.  If possible, the Court instead of striking down the  law  may  itself draw the  line  of  demarcation  where possible  but this effort should be sparingly made and  only in the clearest of cases. [470 G] Judging  the  directions, ’rules and regulations  from  this angle,  it  must be held that there are  general  principles regarding  the  films as a whole and specific  instances  of what  may be considered as offending the public interest  as disclosed in the clause that follows the enunciation of  the freedoms  in Art. 19(1) (a).  The general  principles  which are  stated in the directions given under s. 5-B(2) seek  to do  no  more than restate the  permissible  restrictions  as stated in cl. (2) of Art. 19 and s. 5-B(1) of the Act.  They cannot  be  said to be vague at all.  Similarly,  the  prin- ciples  in s. IV of the directions in relation  to  children and  young persons are quite specific and also salutary  and no  exception can be taken.  It is only the instances  which are  given  in  Section I Clauses A to D which  need  to  be considered.  Read individually they give ample direction  as to what may not be included. [471 B] 448 It  is  clear that expressions  like  ’seduction’,  ’immoral traffic    in   women’,   soliciting.    prostitution    or, procuration’,  ’indelicate  sexual  situation’  and   scenes suggestive  of  immorality’,  ’traffic and  use  of  drugs’, ’class  hatred’, ’blackmail associated with immorality’  are within  the understanding of the average men and more so  of persons  who  are  likely to be the panel  for  purposes  of censorship.  Any more definiteness is not only not  expected but is not possible. [471 G] Municipal  Committee  Amritsar  and anr.  v.  The  State  of Rajasthan, A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 1100; explained. Claude  C.  Caually v. General Construction  Co.,,(1926)  70 L.Ed.  332;  A. K. Gopalan v. The State  of  Madras,  [1950] S.C.R.  88  and State of Madhya Pradesh and Anr.  v.  Baldeo Prasad, [1961] 1 S.C.R. 970 at 979; referred to. (iii)A real flaw in the scheme of the directions  under s.  5-B(2) is a total absence of any direction  which  would tend to preserve art and promote it.  The artistic appeal or presentation of an episode robs it of its vulgarity and harm and  this appears to be completely forgotten.   Artistic  as well  as inartistic presentation are treated alike and  also what  may be socially good and useful and what may not.   In Ranjit  D.  Udeshi’s  case  this  Court  laid  down  certain principles  on  which  the obscenity of a  book  was  to  be considered  with a view to deciding whether the book  should be  allowed  to circulate or  withdrawn.   Those  principles apply  miutatis  mutandis  to films  and  also  other  areas besides  obscenity.  Although it could not be held that  the directions are defective in so far as they go, directions to emphasize  the importance of art to a value judgment by  the censors need to be included. [471 H] U.S., U.K. and other case law considered.

JUDGMENT: ORIGINAL JURISDICTION: Writ Petition No. 491 of 1969. Petition  under  Art. 32 of the Constitution  of  India  for enforcement of Fundamental Rights. R.K. Garg, D. P. Singh, S. C. Agrawala, R. K. Jain, V. J.



Francis and S. Chakravarti, for the petitioner. Niren  De,  Attorney-General,  Jagadish  Swarup,  Solicitor- General, J. M.  Mukhi, R. N. Sachthey and B. D. Sharma,  for the respondents. The Judgment of the Court was delivered by Hidayatulla, C.J. This petition seeks a declaration  against the  Union of India and the Chairman Central Board  of  Film Censors, that the provisions of Part 11 of the Cinematograph Act  1952 together with the rules prescribed by the  Central Government,  February 6, 1960, in the purported exercise  of its powers under S. 5-B of the Act are unconstitutional  and void.   As a consequence the petitioner asks for a  writ  of mandamus  Or any other appropriate writ, direction or  order quashing  the direction contained in a letter  (Annexure  X) dated  July  3, 1969 for deletion of certain  shots  from  a documentary  film entitled ’A Tale of Four Cities’  produced by him for unrestricted public exhibition. 449 The  petitioner  is a journalist, playwright and  writer  of short  stories.   He  is also a  producer  and  director  of cinematograph  films.   He  was  a  member  of  the  Enquiry Committee  on Film Censorship (1968) and is a member of  the Children’s Film Committee.  He has produced and/or  directed many  films some of which have been well-received  here  and abroad and even won awards and prizes. The  petitioner  produced in 1968 a documentary  film  in  2 reels  (running  time  16 minutes) called  a  Tale  of  Four Cities.  In this film he purported to contrast the luxurious life  of  the rich in the four cities  of  calcutta  Bombay, Madras and Delhi, with the squalor and poverty of the  poor, particularly  those  whose hands and labour  help  to  build beautiful cities, factories and other industrial  complexes. The  film is in black and white and is silent except  for  a song  which  the labourers sing while doing  work  and  some background music and sounds for stage effect.  The film,  in motion sequences or still shots, shows contrasting scenes of palatial  buildings, hotels and factories--evidence  of  the prosperity of a few, and shanties, huts and  slums--evidence of  poverty  of the masses.  These scenes alternate  and  in between are other scenes showing sweating labourers  working to  build the former and those showing the  squalid  private life  of these labourers.  Some shots mix people  riding  in lush  motor  cars  with rickshaw  and  handcart  pullers  of Calcutta  and  Madras.  In one scene a  fat  and  prosperous customer  is  shown riding a rickshaw which a  decrepit  man pulls,  sweating and panting hard.  In a contrasting,  scene the  same rickshaw puller is shown sitting in the  rickshaw, pulled   by  his  former  customer.   This  scene   is   the epitomisation  of the theme of the film and on view are  the statutes  of the leaders of Indian Freedom Movement  looking impotently  from their high pedestals in front  of  palatial buildings, on the poverty of the masses.  On the  bouleverds the  rich  drive  past in limousines  while  the  poor  pull rickshaws or handcarts or stumble along. There  is  included  also a scanning shot of  a  very  short duration, much blurred by the movement of the photographer’s camera,  in which the red light district of Bombay is  shown with  the  inmates of the brothels waiting at the  doors  or windows.  Some of them wear abbreviated skirts showing  bare legs  up to the knees and sometimes a short way above  them. This  scene was perhaps shot from a moving car  because  the picture  is  unsteady  on  the  screen  and  under  exposed. Sometimes  the inmates, becoming aware of the  photographer, quickly withdraw themselves.  The whole scene barely lasts a minute.   Then we see one of the inmates shutting  a  window



and  afterwards  we see the hands of a  woman  holding  some currency  notes and a male hand plucking away most  of  them leaving only a very few in the hands of the female.  The two actors are not shown. 450 The  suggestion  in the first. scene is that a  customer  is being  entertained  behind closed shutters and in  the  next sequence  that the amount received is being  shared  between the  pimp and the prostitute, the former taking  almost  the whole  of  the money.  The sequence continues  and  for  the first time the woman who shut the window is again seen.  She sits  at the dressing table, combs her hair, glances at  two love-birds in a cage and looks around the room as if it were a cage.  Then she goes behind a screen and emerges in  other clothes and prepares for bed.  She sleeps and dreams of  her life before she took the present path.  The film then passes on  to  its previous theme, of  contrasts  mentioned  above, often  repeating  the  earlier  shots  in  juxtaposition  as stills.   There  is nothing else in the film to  be  noticed either by us or by the public for which it is intended. The  petitioner applied to the Board of Film Censors for  a ’U’ certificate for unrestricted exhibition of the film.  He received A. letter (December 30, 1969) by which the Regional Officer  informed him that the Examining Committee  and  the Board had provisionally come to the conclusion that the film was not suitable for unrestricted public exhibition but  was suitable for exhibition restricted to adults.  He was  given a  chance  to  make representations  against  the  tentative decision  within  14 days.  Later he was informed  that  the Revising  Committee  had reached the  same  conclusion.   He represented  by  letter (February 18, 1969)  explaining  the purpose of the films as exposing the exploitation of man (or woman)  by man’ and the contrast between the very  rich  few and  the  very poor masses.  He claimed that  there  was  no obscenity  in  the  film.   He  was  informed  by  a  letter (February 26, 1969) that the Board did not see any reason to alter  its decision and the petitioner could’ appeal  within 30 days to the Central Government.  The petitioner  appealed the very next day.  On July 3, 1969, the Central  Government decided  to  give a ’U’ certificate provided  the  following cuts were made in the film:               "Shorten  the scene of woman in the red  light               district, deleting specially the shot  showing               the  closing  of the window by the  lady,  the               suggestive shots of bare knees and the passing               of the currency notes." Dir.  IC(iii)(b)(c);               IV". The mystery of the code numbers at the end was explained  by a letter on July 23, 1969 to mean this :               "1.  It is not desirable that a film shall  be               certified  as suitable for public  exhibition,               either  unrestricted or restricted  to  adults               which               45 1               C(iii)  (b) deals with the  relations  between               the  sexes  in  such a  manner  as  to  depict               immoral  traffic  in  women  and   soliciting,               prostitution or procuration.               IV.It is undesirable that a certificate for               unrestricted   public  exhibition   shall   be               granted  in  respect  of a  film  depicting  a               story, or containing incidents unsuitable  for               young persons." The  petitioner then filed this petition claiming  that  his fundamental  right of free speech and expression was  denied



by  the order of the Central Government.  He claimed  a  ’U’ certificate for the film as of right. Before the hearing commenced the film was specially screened for  us.  The lawyers of both sides (including the  Attorney General) and the petitioner were also present.  The case was then  set down for hearing.  The Solicitor General (who  had not  viewed the film) appeared at the hearing.  We found  it difficult  to  question  him  about  the  film  and  at  our suggestion  the  Attorney General appeared but  stated  that Government  had decided to grant a ’U’ certificate,  to  the film without the cuts previously ordered.- The  petitioner  then  asked  to be  allowed  to  amend  the petition  so  as  to be able  to  challenge  pre,-censorship itself as offensive to freedom of speech and expression  and alternatively  the  provisions  of the Act  and  the  rules, orders and directions under the Act, as vague, arbitrary and indefinite.  We allowed the application for amendment, for the petitioner was right in contending that a person  who invests his capital in promoting or producing  a film  must have clear guidance in advance in the  matter  of censorship of films even if the law of pre-censorship be not violative of the fundamental right. When  the matter came up for hearing the  petitioner  raised four  points  :  (a) that pre-censorship  itself  cannot  be tolerated  under the freedom of speech and  expression,  (b) that even if it were a legitimate restraint on the  freedom, it must be exercised on very definite principles which leave no  room  for arbitrary action, (c) that there,  must  be  a reasonable  time-limit fixed for the decision of the  autho- rities  censoring the film, and (d) that the  appeal  should lie  to  a court or to an independent tribunal and  not  the Central Government. The  Solicitor-General conceded (c) and (d) and stated  that Government would set on foot legislation to effectuate  them at them earliest possible opportunity.  Since the petitioner felt, satisfied with, this assurance we did not go into  the matter.   But we must place on record that  the  respondents exhibited charts showing the time taken in the censorship of films during the last one year or so and. 45 2 we  were satisfied that except in very rare cases  the  time taken could not be said to be unreasonable.  We express  our satisfaction  that  the  Central Government  will  cease  to perform  curial functions through one of its Secretaries  in this  sensitive  field involving the  fundamental  right  of speech  and expression.  Experts sitting as a  Tribunal  and deciding  matters quasi-judicially inspire  more  confidence than a Secretary and therefore it is better that the  appeal should lie to a court or tribunal. This  brings us to the remaining two questions.  We take  up first  for consideration : whether pre-censorship by  itself offends  the  freedom  of speech  and  expression.   Article 19(1)(a)  and (2) of the Constitution contain the  guarantee of  the night and the restraints that may be put  upon  that right  by a law to be made by Parliament.  They may be  read here: "19.   Protection  of certain rights  regarding  freedom  of speech, etc. (1)  All citizens shall have the right--- (a)  to freedom of speech and expression;               (2)Nothing in sub-clause (a) of clause  (1)               shall  affect  the operation of  any  existing               law, or prevent the State from making any law,               in  so  far  as such  law  imposes  reasonable               restrictions  on  the exercise  of  the  right



             conferred  by  the  said  sub-clause  in   the               interests of the sovereignty and integrity  of               India,  the  security of the  State,  friendly               relations  with foreign States, public  order,               decency   or  morality,  or  in  relation   to               contempt of court, defamation or incitement to               an offence." The   argument   is  that  the  freedom  is   absolute   and precensorship is not permissible under the Constitution.  It is  submitted  that precensorship is inconsistent  with  the right  guaranteed.  Now it is clear that some  restraint  is contemplated  by  the  second clause and in  the  matter  of censorship  only two ways are open to Parliament  to  impose restrictions.   One is to Jay down in advance the  standards for  the observance of film producers and then to test  each film  produced against those standards by a perview  of  the film.   The  other  is to let  the  producer  observe  those standards  and make the infraction an offence and  punish  a Producer  who  does  not keep  within  the  standards.   The petitioner claims that the former offends 453 the  guaranteed freedom but reluctantly concedes the  latter and  relies upon the minority view expressed in  the  United States  Supreme  Court from time to  time.   The  petitioner reinforces this argument by contending that there are  other forms of speech and expression besides the films and none of them  is  subject  to any prior restraint  in  the  form  of precensorship  and  claims equality of treatment  with  such other forms.  He claims that there is no justification for a differential  treatment.   He contends next  that  even  the standards  laid down are unconstitutional for  many  reasons which we shall state in proper place. This is the first case, in which the censorship of films  in general and precensorship in particular have been challenged in  this  Court’  and  before  we  say  anything  about  the arguments, it is necessary to set down a few facts  relating to  censorship  of  films and how it works  in  India.   The Government of India appointed a Committee on March 28,  1968 to  enquire into the working of the existing procedures  for certification  of cinematograph films for public  exhibition in  India and allied matters, under the Chairmanship of  Mr. G. D. Khosla, former Chief Justice of the Punjab High Court. The  report  of the Committee has since been  published  and contains  a  valuable summary of the law of  censorship  not only  in India but also in foreign countries.  It is  hardly helpful  to the determination of this case to go  into  this history but it may be mentioned here that it is the  opinion of experts on the subject that Indian :film censorship since our  independence has become one of strictest in the  world: See  Film Censors and the Law by Neville March Hunilings  p. 227  and  Filmrecht:  ein  Handbuch  of  Berthold  and   von Hartleib(1957)p.215  quoted  by  Hunnings.  ln  1966  Mr.Raj Bahadur  (who succeeded Mrs. Indira Gandhi as  Minister  for Information  and  Broadcasting) said that  Government  would ’continue a liberal censorship’ and was considering  certain expert  opinion  on the subject.  He also suggested  to  the film industry that it should formulate a code which would be the best from all standards so that Government may be guided by it in formulating directives to the censors’; See Journal of Film Industry, February 25, 1966 also quoted by  Hunnings at page 18 of his book.  This suggestion came to nothing for obvious  reasons.   Film  industry  in  India  is  not  even oligopolistic in character and it is useless to expect it to classify films according to their suitability, as is done in the  United  States  by the motion  picture  Association  of



America(MPAA)  founded  in  October 1968.   There  the  film industry is controlled by eight major producers and  private control  of film-making is possible with the  assistance  of the   National  Association  of  Theatre  Owners  and   Film Importers  and  Distributors  of America.   Having  no  such organisation  for private censorship or even a private  body like the British Board of Film Censors in England, the task must  be  done by Government if censorship is at all  to  be imposed.  Films began’ to be 436 Sup Cl/71 exhibited in India at the turn of the last century and  film censorship  took birth in 1918 when the  Cinematograph  Act, 1918  (2 of 1918) was passed.  Two matters alone  were  then dealt with : (a) the licensing of cinema houses, and (b) the certifying of film for public exhibition.  The censors had a wide  discretion  and  no standards for  their  action  were indicated.   Boards of Film Censors came into  existence  in the  three Presidency towns and Rangoon.  The  Bombay  Board drew  up  some institutions for Inspectors of Films  and  it copied  the  43  rules  formulated by  T.  P.  O’Connor  in. England.  These are more or less continued even today. We do not wish to trace here the history of the  development of  film censorship in India.  That task has been  admirably performed by the Khosla Committee.  Legislation in the shape of amendments of the Act of 1918 and a Production Code  were the   highlights   of  the  progress.   In  1952   a   fresh consolidating  Act  was  passed and it is  Act  37  of  1952 (amended  in 1959 by Act 3 of 1959) and that is the  present statutory provision on the subject.  It established a  Board of Film Censors and provided for Advisory Panels at Regional Centres.   Every person desiring to exhibit any film has  to apply  for a certificate and the Board after  examining  the film or having the film examined deals with it by:               (a)sanctioning  the film  for  unrestricted               public exhibition;               (b)sanctioning   the   film   for    public               exhibition restricted to adults;               (c)directing     such     excisions     and               modifications   as  it  thinks   fit,   before               sanctioning  the film for unrestricted  public               exhibition or for public exhibition restricted               to adults, as the case may be; or               (d)  refusing to sanction the film for  public               exhibition. The  film producer is allowed to represent his views  before action  under (b) (c) and (d) is taken.  The sanction  under (a) is by granting a ’U’ certificate and under (b) by an ’A’ certificate and the certificates are valid for ten years. The  Act then lays down the principles for guidance and  for appeals in ss. 5B and _5C respectively.  These sections  may be. read here               "5B.  principles  for guidance  in  certifying               films.               (1)A-  film  shall  not  be  certified  for               public  exhibition if, in the opinion  of  the               authority competent to grant the  certificate,               the  film  or any part of it  is  against  the               interests  of  the,  security  of  the  State,               friendly relations with foreign               455               States, public order, decency or morality,  or               involves defamation or contempt of court or is               likely   to  incite  the  commission  of   any               offence.               (2)Subject  to the provisions contained  in



             Sub-section  (1), the Central  Government  may               issue  such  directions as it  may  think  fit               setting  out the principles which shall  guide               the authority competent to grant  certificates               under this Act in sanctioning films for public               exhibition."               "5C.  Appeals.               Any  person  applying  for  a  certificate  in               respect  of  a film who is  aggrieved  by  any               order of the Board--               (a)   refusing to grant a certificate; or               (b)   granting only an "A" certificate; or               (c)   directing the applicant to carry out any               excisions or modifications;               may, within thirty days from the date of  such               order,  appeal to the Central Government,  and               the Central Government may, after such inquiry               into the matter as it considers necessary  and               after giving the appellant an opportunity  for               representing  his  views in the  matter,  make               such  order in relation thereto as  it  thinks               fit." By  s.  6,  the Central Government has  reserved  a  general revising power which may be exercised during the pendency of a  film  before the Board and even after  it  is  certified. Under the, latter part of this power the Central  Government may  cancel a certificate already granted or change the  ’U’ certificate  into  an ’A’ certificate or may suspend  for  2 months the exhibition of any film. The  above is the general scheme of the legislation  on  the subject  omitting  allied  matters  in  which  we  are   not interested  in this case.  It will be noticed that S.  5B(1) really reproduces clause (2) of Art. 19 as it was before its amendment  by the First Amendment.  This fact has led to  an argument  which we shall notice presently.  The second  sub- section of S. 5B enables the Central Government to state the principles  to  guide the censoring  authority,  by  issuing directions.   In  furtherance  of  this  power  the  Central Government  has  given  directions  to  the  Board  of  Film Censors.  They are divided into General Principles three  in number, followed by directions for their application in what are  called ’ruled’.  The part dealing with the  application of  the  principles is divided into four sections  and  each section  contains  matters which may not be the  subject  of portrayal  in  films.  We may quote the  General  Principles here               "1.  No picture shall be certified for  public               exhibition   which   will  lower   the   moral               standards of those who see it.               45 6               Hence, the sympathy of the audience shall  not               be thrownon the side of crime,  wrong-doing,               evil or sin.               2.Standards of life, having regard to  the               standards of thecountry and the people to               which  the  story  relates,shall  not  be   so               portrayed  as to deprave the morality  of  the               audience.               3.The  prevailing  laws shall  not  be  so               ridiculed as to create sympathy for  violation               of such laws." The  application of the General Principles is  indicated  in the four sections of the rules that follow so that a uniform standard may be applied by the different regional panels and Boards.   The  first  section deals  with  films  which  are



considered  unsuitable for public exhibition.  This  section is  divided  into clauses A to F. ’Clause A deals  with  the delineation  of crime, B with that of vice or immorality,  C with that of relations between sexes, D with the  exhibition of  human form, E with the bringing into contempt  of  armed forces,  or  the  public  authorities  entrusted  with   the administration of law and order and F with the protection of the  susceptibilities  of  foreign  nations and  religious communities,  with fomenting social unrest or discontent  to such  an extent as to incite people to crime  and  promoting disorder, violence, a breach of the law ’or disaffection  or resistance to Government. Clauses E and F are further explained by stating what is un- suitable and what is objectionable in relation to the topics under those clauses. Section   11   then  enumerates  subjects   which   may   be objectionable  in a context in which either they  amount  to indecency, immorality, illegality or incitement to commit  a breach of the law. Section III then provides               "It  is not proposed that certification  of  a               film should be refused altogether, or that  it               should  be  certified as  suitable  for  adult               audiences  only, where the deletion of a  part               or   parts,  will  render  it   suitable   for               unrestricted   public   exhibition   or    for               exhibition  restricted  to  adults,  and  such               deletion  is made, unless the film is such  as               to  deprave the majority of the  audience  and               even excisions will not cure the defects."               Section IV deals with the protection of  young               persons  and enjoins refusal of a  certificate               for unrestricted public exhibition in  respect               of  a  film depicting a  story  or  containing               incidents   unsuitable  for   young   persons:               Emphasis   in  this  connection  is  laid   in               particular upon-               457               (i)anything  which may strike terror  in  a               young  person, e.g., scenes depicting  ghosts,               brutality,   mutilations,  torture,   cruelty,               etc.;                (ii)anything  tending  to  disrupt  domestic               harmony  or the confidence of a child  in  its               parents,   eg.   scenes   depicting    parents               quarrelling violently, or one of them striking               the  other,  or one or both of  them  behaving               immorally;               (iii)anything  tending  to make a  person  of               tender years insensitive to cruelty to  others               or to animals." In  dealing  with  crime  under  section  I  clause  A,  the glorification  or extenuation of crime, depicting the  modus operandi of criminals, enlisting admiration or sympathy  for smiminals, holding up to contempt the forces of law  against crime etc. are indicated, as making the film unsuitable  for exhibition.   In Clause B similar directions are given  with regard  to  vice and immoral acts and  vicious  and  immoral persons.  In Clause C the unsuitability arises from lowering the sacredness of the institution of marriage and  depicting rape,  seduction  and criminal assaults  on  women,  immoral traffic  in women, soliciting prostitution  or  procuration, illicit   sexual  relations,  excessively  passionate   love scenes,  indelicate sexual situations and scenes  suggestive of immorality.  In Clause D the exhibition of human form  in



nakedness  or  indecorously  or  suggestively  dressed   and indecorous and sensuous postures are condemned.  In  Section 11   are   mentioned  confinements,  details   of   surgical operations,  venereal diseases and loathsome  diseases  like leprosy  and  sores,  suicide  or  genocide,  female   under clothing,   indecorous  dancing,  importunation  of   women, cruelty  to  children, torture of adults,  brutal  fighting, gruesome  murders  or scenes of  strangulation,  executions, mutilations and bleeding, cruelty to animals, drunkenness or drinking  not essential to the theme of- the story,  traffic and use of drugs, class hatred, horrors of war, horror as  a predominant element, scenes likely to afford information  to the  enemy in time of war, exploitation of tragic  incidents of  war,  blackmail associated  with  immorality,  intimate biological  studies, crippled limbs or malformations,  gross travesties of administration of justice I and defamation  of any living person. We have covered almost the entire range of instructions.  It will  be  noticed  that the control  is  both  thematic  and episodic.  If the theme offends the rules and either with or without  excision of the offending parts, the  film  remains still   offensive,  the  certificate  is  refused.  if   the excisions can remove its offensiveness, the film is  granted a  certificate.  Certifiable films are classified  according to  their suitability for adults or-young people.   This  is the  essential working of Censorship of motion  pictures  in our country. 458 The  first question is whether the films need censorship  at all’   Pre-censorship  is but an aspect  of  censorship  and bears  the same relationship in quality to the  material  as censorship after the motion picture has had a run.  The only difference is one of the stage at which the State interposes its  regulations  between the individual  and  his  freedom. Beyond  this there is no vital difference.  That  censorship is  prevalent all the world over in some form or  other  and pre-censorship  also plays a part where motion pictures  are involved,  shows  the  desirability of  censorship  in  this field.   The  Khosla  Committee  has  given  a   description generally of the regulations for censorship (including  pre- censorship) obtaining in other countries and Hunning’s  book deals  with  these  topics in  detail  separately  for  each country.   The method changes, the rules ’are different  and censorship is more strict in some Dlaces than in others, but censorship  is  universal.  Indeed  the  petitioner  himself pronounced  strongly  in favour of it in  a  paper  entitled ’Creative Expression’ written by him.  This is what he said:               "But  even if we believe that a novelist or  a               painter or a musician should be free to write,               paint   and   compose   music   without    the               interference  of the State machinery, I  doubt               if anyone will advocate the same freedom to be               extended  to the commercial exploitation of  a               powerful    medium    of    expression     and               entertainment   like  the  cinema.   One   can               imagine the results if an unbridled commerical               cinema  is  allowed  to cater  to  the  lowest               common denominator of popular taste, specially               in  a  country which, after two  centuries  of               political  and cultural domination,  is  still               suffering  from a confusion and debasement  of               cultural values.               Freedom of expression cannot, and should  not,               be   interpreted   as  a   licence   for   the               cinemagnates  to make money by  pandering  to,



             and  thereby  propagating, shoddy  and  vulgar               taste’ Further  it has been almost universally recognised that  the treatment of motion pictures must be different from that of other  forms  of art and expression.  This arises  from  the instant  appeal  of  the motion  picture,  its  versatility, realism  (often  surrealism), and its  coordination  of  the visual  and  aural senses.  The art of the  cameraman,  with trick   photography,  vistavision  and   three   dimensional representation thrown in, _ has made the cinema picture more true to life than even the theatre or indeed any other  form of  representative art.  The motion picture is able to  stir up emotions more deeply than any other product of art.   Its effect  particularly  on children and  adolescents  is  very great  since  their  immaturity makes  them  more  willingly suspend their disbelief than 45 9 mature men and women.  They also remember the action in  the picture  and try to emulate or imitate what they have  seen. Therefore,  classification of films into two  categories  of ’U’ films and ’A’ films is a reasonable classification.   It is also for this reason that motion picture must be regarded differently  from other forms of speech and  expression.   A person  reading a book or other writing or hearing a  speech or viewing a painting or sculpture is not so deeply  stirred as  by seeing a motion picture.  Therefore the treatment  of the   latter  on  a  different  footing  is  also  a   valid classification. The petitioner pressed for acceptance of the minority  views expressed  from  time to time in the Supreme  Court  of  the United  States and it is, therefore, necessary to say a  few words about censorship of motion pictures in America and the impact of the First Amendment guaranteeing freedom of speech and  expression in that country.  The leading cases  in  the United States are really very few but they are followed in a very  large number of per curiam decisions in  which,  while concurring  with the earlier opinion of the Court, there  is sometimes a restatement with a difference.  As early as 1914 in   Mutual   Film  Corpn.  v.  Industrial   Commission   of Ohio(1),Mr.  Justice Me Kenna, speaking for the full  Court, said that legislative power is not delegated unlawfully when a  board- of censors is set up to examine and censor,  as  a condition precedent to exhibition, motion picture films,  to be publicly exhibited and displayed, with a view to  passing and  approving only such of them as are in the  judgment  of the  board,  moral, educational or  amusing  and  forbidding those  that  are not.  Speaking of the  criteria  stated  in general words, it was said that general terms get "precision from the sense and experience of men and become certain  and useful  guides in reasoning and conduct".  The first  notice of change came in 1925 in Gitlow v. New York(2), when it was said  that censorship had to pass the scrutiny of the  First Amendment through the Fourteenth Amendment before speech and expression  could be abridged by State laws.  To  this,  was added  in 1919 the test of ’clear and present  danger’  pro- pounded  by Justice Holmes as the only basis for  curtailing the freedom of speech and expression, see Shenck v.  U.S.(3) and Justice Brandeis in Whitney v. California (4) laid  down three components of the test               (a)There must be a clear and present danger               that speech would produce a substantial  evil               that the State has power to prevent.  This  is               not  to  say  that it is enough  if  there  is               ’fear’,  there must be reasonable  grounds  to               fear  that serious evil would result from  the



             exercise of speech and expression. (1)  (1915) 236 U. S. 230, (3)  (1 919) 249 U. S. 47. (2)  (1925) 268 U. S. 652. (4)  (1927) 274 U. S. 357. 460 .lm15 (b)There must be a ’present’ or ’imminent’ danger and  for this  there must be reasonable grounds to hold this  opinion and  that no reasonable opportunity was available  to  avert the consequences; and (c)The  substantive evil to be prevented must be  serious’ before  there can be a prohibition on freedom of speech  and expression  for the police power of the State could  not  be exercised  to take away the guarantee to avert a  relatively trivial harm to society. In 1931 in Near v. Minnesota(1) immunity of press from  pre- censorship  was denied but pre-censorship (as it  is  termed previous  restraint)  was  not to  be  unlimited.   A  major purpose  of  the  First  Amendment  was  to  prevent   prior restraint.  The protection was not unlimited but put on  the state  the burden of showing that the limitation  challenged in the case was exceptional. In  1941  the Court handed down in Chaplinsky  v.  New  Ham- pshire(2)  the opinion that free speech was not absolute  at all  times  and  in all circumstances,  that  there  existed certain  "well-defined  and  narrowly  limited  classes   of speech,  the  prevention and punishment of which  had  never been thought to raise any constitutional problem". This  state of affairs Continued also in respect  of  motion pictures  and  the regulation of  their  public  exhibition. Real  attention was focussed on censorship after 1951.   The effect  of  World War 11 on American society  was  the  real cause  because  peoples notions of right and  wrong  from  a social  point  of view drastically altered.  Added  to  this were  the  inroads  made by Justices Douglas  and  Black  in Dennis  v. U.S. (3) in the previously accepted  propositions which  according  to them made the First Amendment  no  more than   an  admonition  to  Congress.   In   Beauharnais   v. Illinois(4)  Justice  Douglas  claimed for  the  freedom  of speech,  a preferred position because the provision  was  in absolute  terms, an opinion which has since not been  shared by the majority of the Court. In 1951 there came the leading decision Burstyn v. Wilson(,) This  case  firmly  established that  motion  pictures  were within  the  protection of the First Amendment  through  the Fourteenth.   While recognising that there was  no  absolute freedom to exhibit every motion picture of every kind at all times  and places, and that constitutional  protection  even against  a  prior restraint was  not  absolutely  unlimited, limitation was said to be only in exceptional (1)  (1931) 283 U.S. 697 (3)  (1951) 341 U. S. 494. (2)  (1941) 315 U. S. 567. (4)  (1952) 343 U. S. 250. (5) (1951) 343 U.S. 495. 461. cases.  It however laid down that censorship on free  speech and,  expression  was  ordinarily to be  condemned  but  the precise  rules. governing other methods,of  expression  were not necessarily applicable. The  application of the 14th Amendment has now  enabled  the Court to interfere in all cases of state restrictions  where censorship fails to follow due process.  The result has  led to  a serious conflict in the accepted legal  opinion.   The



Supreme  Court has had to deal with numerous cases in  which censorship was questioned. The  divergence  of opinion in recent years  has  been  very deep.   Censorship  of press, art and literature is  on  the verge  of extinction, except in the ever shrinking  area  of obscenity.  In the field of censorship of the motion picture there has been a tendency to apply the ’void for  vagueness’ doctrine  evolved  under  the  due  process  clause.    Thus regulations  containing such words as ’obscene,  ’indecent’, ’immoral’,  ’prejudicial to the best interests of  people’-, ’tending to corrupt morals’, ’harmful’ were considered vague criteria.   In  Kingsley International  Pictures  Corpn.  v. Regents(1)  where  the film Lady Chatterley’s Lover  was  in question,  certain opinions were expressed.  These  opinions formed  the  basis  of  the  arguments  on  behalf  of   the petitioner.  Justice Black considered that the court was the worst  of  Board Censors because they possessed  no  special expertise.   Justice  Frankfurter was of the  opinion,  that ’legislation must not be so vague, the language so loose, as to leave to those who have to apply it too wide a discretion for  sweeping within its condemnation what  was  permissible expression  as  well  as  what  society  might   permissibly prohibit,  always  remembering  that the  widest  scope  for freedom  was to be given to the adventurous and  imaginative exercise,  of  human  spirit.  .  .  .  ".  Justice  Douglas considered prior restraint as unconstiutional.  According to him if a movie violated a valid law, the exhibitor could  be prosecuted. The  only test that seemed to prevail was that of  obscenity as propunded inRoth  v. United  States(2).           In that three tests were-laid down:               (a)that the dominant theme taken as a whole               appeals to prurient interests according to the               contemporary standards of the average man;               (b)that the motion picture is not saved  by               any redeeming social value; and               (c)that it is patently offensive because it               is opposed               to contemporary standards.               (1)   (1959) 360 U. S. 684.               (2) (1957) 354 U. S. 476.               3 6 2               ’The Hicklin test in Regina v. Hicklin(1)  was               not accepted.               Side  by side procedural safeguards were  also               considered.   The leading case is Freedmen  v.               Maryland(2)   where  the  court   listed   the               following   requirements  for  a  valid   film               statute               1.The  burden of proving that the film  is               obscene rests on the censor.               2.Final restraint (denial of licence)  may               only occur after judicial determination of the               obscenity of the material.               3.The censor will either issue the license               or  go  into court himself for  a  restraining               order.               4.There  must  be only  a  ’brief  period’               between  the censor’s first  consideration  of               film  and  final judicial  determination.  (As               summarized   by  Martin  Shapiro  Freedom   of               Speech;  The  Supreme Court and  Judicial  Re-               view). These  were  further strengthened recently  in  Teitel  Film Corp.  v Cusak(3) (a per curiam decision) by saying  that  a



non-criminal process which required the prior submission  of a film to a censor avoided constitutional infirmity only  if censorship  took  place under  procedural  safeguards.   The censorship  system  should, therefore, have  a  time-limit’. The  censor  must either pass the film or go  to  ,court  to restrain  the  showing of the film and the court  also  must give  a  prompt  decision.   A  delay  of  50-57  days   was considered  too  much.  The statute in  question  there  had meticulously   laid  down  the  time  for  each   stage   of examination  but  had not fixed any time  limit  for  prompt judicial determination and this proved fatal The  fight against censorship was finally lost in the  Times Film  Corporation  v.  Chicago(4) but only  by  the  slender majority  of  one Chief Justice Warren and  Justices  Black, Douglas  and Brennan dissented.  The views of  these  Judges were  pressed  upon us.  Chief Justice Warren  thought  that there  ought  to  be first an exhibition  ,of  an  allegedly ’obscene  film’  because Government could  not  forbid the exhibition  of a film in advance.  Thus prior restraint  was said ;to be impermissible.  Justice Douglas went further and said   that  censorship  of  movies  was   unconstitutional. Justice  Clark,  on  the other  hand,  speaking  for   the majority, said :               ".  . . . It has never been held that  liberty               of  speech  is  absolute.   Nor  has  it  been               suggested  that  all  previous  restraints  on               speech are invalid.               (1)  L.  R, [1868] 3 Q. B.  360.           (2)               (1965) 380 U. S. 51.               (3) 1968 390 U. S. 139.             (4) (1961)               365 U.S. 4.3.               46 3               It is not for this Court to limit the State in               its  selection  of the remedy  it  deems  most               effective.  to  cope  with  such  a   problem,               absent,  of course, a showing of  unreasonable               strictures  on  individual  liberty  resulting               from    its    application    in    particular               circumstances." The argument that exhibition of moving pictures ought in the first  instance to be free and only a  criminal  prosecution should  be  the mode of restraint when found  offensive  was rejected.   The  precensorship involved was held  to  be  no ground for striking down a law of censorship.  The  minority was of the opinion that a person producing a film must  know what he was to do or not to do.  For, if he were not sure he might avoid even the permissible. In  Interstate Circuit Inc. v. Dallas(1) certain  expression were considered vague including ’crime delinquency’  ’sexual promiscuity’ ’not suitable, for young persons.  According to the court the statute must state narrowly drawn,  reasonably definite,  standards  for  the  Board  to  follow.   Justice Harlan, however, observed that the courts had not found  any more precise expressions and more could not be demanded from the  legislature than-could be said by the  Court.   However precision  of  regulation  was  to  be  the  touchstone   of censorship   and   while  admitting  that   censorship   was admissible,  it was said that too wide a  discretion  should not be left to the censors. Meanwhile in Jacobellis v. Ohio 2 it was held that was  laws could   legitimately   aim   specifically   at    preventing distribution of objectionable material to children and  thus it  approved  of  the  system  of  age-classification.   The Interstate  Circuit  Inc. v. Dallas(1) and Ginsberg  v.  New York(3)  sat the seal on validity of’ age classification  as



constitutionally valid. There  are  two cases which seem to lie  outside  the  main- stream.   Recently in Stanley v. Georgia(4) the Court  seems to have gone back on the Roth case (supra) and held that the right to receive information and ideas, regardless of  their social  worth,  is  also fundamental  to  society.   Another exception  can  only  be  understood on  the  basis  of  the recognition  of  the needs of a  permissive  society.   Thus Mishkin  v. New York removes the test of the average  person by  saying  that if the material is designed for  a  deviant sexual group, the material can only be censored if taken  as a  whole, it appeals to the purient interest in  sex  of-the members  of  that group.  This is known as  the.  selective- audience  obscenity  test and even children  are  a  special class.  See Ginsberg- v. New (1)(1961)  390  U.  S. 676. (2) (1964) 378 U.  S.  184,  (3) (1968) 390 U. S. 629. (4) (1969) 394 U. S. (5)  (1966) 383 U. S. 502. 464 York(1).  On the whole, however, there is in this last  case a return to the Hicklin test in that obscenity is considered even from isolated passages. To  summarize.   The attitude of the Supreme  Court  of  the United  States is not as uniform as one could wish.  It  may be taken as settled that motion picture is considered a form of expression and entitled to protection of First Amendment. The  view  that  it is only  commercial  and  business  and, therefore,  not  entitled to the protection as was  said  in Mutual  Film  Corpn. (2) is not now accepted.   It  is  also settled  that  freedom of speech and  expression  admits  of extremely  narrow restraints in cases of clear  and  present danger, but included in the restraints are prior as well  as subsequent  restraints.  The censorship should be  based  on precise statement of what may not be subject matter of film- making  and this should allow full liberty to the growth  of art  and literature.  Age classification is permissible  and suitability  for  special  audiences is  not  to  depend  on whether  the  average  man would have  considered  the  film suitable.   Procedural  safeguards  as  laid  down  in   the Freedman  case(3) must also be observed.  The film can  only be  censored if it offends in the manner set out  in  Roth’s case. The  petitioner  put  before us’ all  these  dicta  for  our acceptance  and added to them the rejection  of  censorship, particularly  prior censorship by Chief Justice  Warren  and Justices Black and Douglas.  He pointed out that in  England too the censorship of the theatre has been abolished by  the Theatres  Act 1968 (1968 C. 54) and submitted that  this  is the  trend  in advanced countries.  He also brought  to  our notice the provisions of the Obscene Publications Act,  1959 (7 & 8 Eliz. 2 C. 66), where the test of obscenity is stated thus : "1. Test of obscenity.               (1)For the purposes of this Act an  article               shall be deemed to be obscene if its effect or               (where  the  article  comprises  two  or  more               distinct  items) the effect of any one of  its               items is, if taken as a whole, such as to tend               to deprave and corrupt persons who are likely,               having  regard to all relevant  circumstances,               to  read, see or hear the matter contained  of               embodied in it.               and the defence of public good is stated thus               "4. Defence of public good.               (1)   (1968) 390 U. S. 629.



             (3) (1965) 380 U S. 51.               (2) (1915) 236 U.S. 230.               465               (1  )  A person shall not be convicted  of  an               offence  against section two of this Act,  and               an  order  for forfeiture shall  not  be  made               under  the foregoing section, if it is  proved               that publication of the article in question is               justified as being for the public good on  the               ground that it is in the interests of science,               literature,  art  or  learning,  or  of  other               objects of general concern.               (2)It  is hereby declared that the  opinion               of  experts  as  to  the  literary,  artistic,               scientific  or other merits of an article  may               be admitted in any proceedings under this  Act               either  to establish or to negative  the  said               ground." He contended that we must follow the above provisions. We may now consider the English practice.  In England  there was little freedom of speech to start with.  The Common  Law made no provision for it.  The two constitutional documents- the Petition of Right (1628) and the Bill of Rights  (1689)- do not mention it.  By the time of Queen Elizabeth I presses were  controlled  through licences and  although  they  were granted,  no  book could be issued without the  sanction  of Government.   The  Star  Chamber  tried  several  cases   of censorship  and it even continued in the days  of  Cromwell. Milton   was   the  first  to  attack  censorship   in   his Areopagitica and that had profound effect on the freedom  of speech.   We  find  quotations  from  his  writings  in  the opinions of Chief Justice Warren and Justice Dougles.  Free- dom  of speech came to be recognised by slow stages  and  it was  Blackstone  who wrote in his Commentaries (Book  IV  p. 1517)-               "The liberty of the Press is indeed  essential               to  the  nature  of a  free  State,  but  this               consists in laying no previous restraints upon               publications." But censorship of theatres continued and no theatre could be licensed  or  a play performed without the sanction  of  the Lord  Chamberlain.   By  the  Theatres  Act  1843  the  Lord Chamberlain  was given statutory control over the  theatres. He   could  forbid  the  production  of  a  play   for   the preservation  of good manners, decorum or the public  peace. There was ordinarily no censorship of the press in  England. When  cinematograph  came into being the  Cinematograph  Act 1909 was passed to control cinemas.  It has now been amended by the Cinematograph Act of 1952.  Restrictions were  placed on  the  exhibition of films to children (s.4)  and  on  the admission  of  children  to certain types  of  film.   Today censorship  of  films is through the British Board  of  Film Censors which is an independent body not subject to  control by  the State.  An elaborate inquiry is already on  foot  to consider whether state control is needed or not.  Censorship of films is run on the lines 4 6 6 set by T.P. O’Connor in 1918.  These directions, as we  said earlier,  have had a great influence upon our laws  and  our directions issued by the Central Government, follow  closely the 43 points of T.P. O’Connor.  It is wrong to imagine that there is no censorship in England.  The Khosla Committee (p. 32)  has given examples of the cuts ordered and also a  list of  films which were found unsuitable.  The Board has  never worked to a Code although the directions are followed.   By



1950 three general, principles were evolved.  They are:               1.Was  the  story,  incident  or  dialogue               likely  to impair the moral standards  of  the               public   by  extenuating  vice  or  crime   or               depreciating moral standards ?               2.Was   it  likely  to  give  offence   to               reasonably minded cinema audiences ?               3.What  effect. would it have on the minds  of               children ? We have digressed into the practice of the United States and the   United  Kingdom  because  analogies  from  these   two countries were mainly relied upon by the petitioner and they serve as a very appropriate back-ground from which to  begin discussion  on the question of censorship and the extent  to which it may be carried. To  begin with our fundamental law allows freedom of  speech and expression to be restricted as clause (2) itself  shows. It   was   observed  in  Ranjit  D.  Udeshi  v.   State   of Maharashtra(1).               "Speaking in terms of the Constitution it  can               hardly  be  claimed that  obscenity  which  is               offensive to modesty or decency is within  the               constitutional protection given to free speech               or  expression,  because the  article  dealing               with  the  right  itself  excludes  it.   That               cherished  right on which our democracy  rests               is  meant for the expression of free  opinions               to  change political or social conditions.  or               for the advancement of human knowledge.   This               freedom is subject to reasonable  restrictions               which may be thought necessary in the interest               of  the  general public and one  such  is  the               interest  of  public  decency  and   morality.               Section  292,  Indian Penal  Code,  manifestly               embodies  such a restriction because  the  law               against   obscenity,  of   course,   correctly               understood and applied, seeks no more than  to               promote public decency and morality". We  adhere to this statement and indeed it is applicable  to the  other  spheres  where control is  tolerated  under  our fundamental   law.   The  argument  that  s.  5-B   of   the Cinematograph Act does (1)(1965) 1 S.C.R. 65. 4 6 7 not  reproduce the full effect of the second clause of  Art. 19 need not detain us.  It appears that the draftsman used a copy  of  the  Constitution.  as it  was  before  the  First Amendment  and fell into the error of copying  the  obsolete clause.  ’That, however, does not make any difference.   The Constitution has to be read first and the section next.  The latter   can  neither  take  away  nor  add  to   what   the Constitution has said on the subject.  The word ‘reasonable’ is  not  to be found in s. 5-B but it cannot mean  that  the restrictions can be unreasonable.  No only the sense of  the matter but the existence of the constitutional provision  in part materia must have due share and reading the  provisions of  the  Constitution we can approach  the  problem  without having to adopt a too liberal construction of s. 5-B. It,  therefore,  follows that the American and  the  British precedents cannot be decisive and certainly not the minority view expressed by some of the Judges of the Supreme Court of the former.  The American Constitution stated the  guarantee in absolute terms without any qualification.  The Judges try to give full effect to the guarantee by every argument  they can validly use.  But the strongest proponent of the freedom



(Justice  Douglas) himself recognised in the  Kingsley  case that there must be a vital difference in approach.  This  is what he said :               "If we had a provision in our Constitution for               ’reasonable’  regulation of the press such  as               India  has  included in hers, there  would  be               room  for  argument  that  censorship  in  the               interests of morality would be permissible". In  spite  of  the absence of such  a  provision  Judges  in America   have   tried  to  read   the   words   ’reasonable restrictions’ into the First Amendment and thus to make  the rights  it  grants subject to  reasonable  regulation.   The American  cases  in  their  majority  opinions,   therefore, clearly support a case of censorship. It would appear from ’,this that censorship of films,  their classification according to age groups and their suitability for  unrestricted  exhibition with or without  excisions  is regarded  as a valid exercise of power in the  interests  of public  morality, decency etc.  This is not to be  construed as   necessarily  offending  the  freedom  of   speech   and expression.   This  has,  however, happened  in  the  United States  and therefore decisions, as Justice Douglas said  in his  Tagore  Law Lectures (1939), have the  flavour  of  due process  rather than what was conceived as the  _purpose  of the First Amendment.  This is because social interest of the people  override individual freedom.  Whether we regard  the state  as the paren patriae or as guardian and  promoter  of general  welfare, we have to concede, that these  restraints on liberty may be justified by their absolute necessity  and clear purpose.  Social interests take in not only 468 the interests of the community but also individual interests which  ,cannot  be ignored.  A balance has therefore  to  be struck between ,the rival claims by reconciling them.   The, larger interests of the community require the formulation of policies and regulations to ,combat dishonesty,  corruption, gambling,  vice  and other things of  immoral  tendency  and things  which  affect  the security of the,  State  and  the preservation  of public order and tranquillity.   As  Ahrens said  the, question calls for a good  philosophical  campass and strict logical methods. With  this preliminary discussion we say that censorship  in India  (and precensorship is not different in  quality)  has full justification in the field of the exhibition of  cinema films.   We need not generalize about other forms of  speech and  expression here for each such fundamental right  has  a different content and importance.  The censorship imposed on the  making and exhibition of films is in the  interests  of society.   If the regulations venture into  something  which goes  beyond this legitimate opening to  restrictions,  they can be questioned on the ground that a legitimate ,power  is being abused.  We hold, therefore, that censorship of  films including   prior   restraint   is   justified   under   our Constitution. This  brings  us to the next questions : How far  can  these restrictions  go  ? and how are they to be imposed  ?  This leads to an examination of the provisions contained in s. 5- B (2).  That provision authorises the Central government to issue  such directions as it may think fit setting  out  the principles  which  shall guide the  authority  competent  to grant  certificates under the Act in sanctioning  films  for public exhibition. The first question raised before us is that the  legislature has  not indicated any guidance to the  Central  Government. We  do not think that this is a fair reading of the  section



as a whole.  The first sub-section states the principles and read with the second clause of the nineteenth article it  is quite  clearly indicated that the topics of films  or  their content  should not offend certain matters’there  set  down. The  Central  Government  in dealing  with  the  problem  of censorship  will have to bear in mind those, principles  and they  will  be  the philosophical compass  and  the  logical methods  of  Ahrens.  Of course, Parliament  can  adopt  the directions and put them in schedule to the Act (and that may still  be  done),  it  cannot be  said  that  there  is  any delegation  of legislative function.  If Parliament  made  a law  giving  power  to  close  certain  roads  for   certain vehicular  traffic at stated times to be determined  by  the Executive  authorities  and  they made  regulations  in  the exercise  of  that power, it cannot for a moment  be  argued that  this  is  insufficient  to  take  away  the  right  of locomotion.    Of  course,  every-thing  may  be   done   by legislation but it is not necessary to do so 4 69 if  the policy underlying regulations is clearly  indicated. The   Central   Government’s  regulations  are   there   for consideration in the light of the guaranteed freedom and  if they offend substantially against that freedom, they may  be struck  down.  But as they stand they cannot be  challeneged on  the ground that any recondite theory of law making or  a critical approach to the separation of powers is  infringed. We are accordingly of the opinion that s. 5-B (2) cannot  be challenged on this ground. This brings us to the manner of the exercise of control  and restriction  by the directions.  Here the argument  is  that most  of  the regulations are vague and  further  that  they leave  no scope for the exercise of creative genius  in  the field  of  art.   This poses the first  question  before  us whether  the  ’void for vagueness’ doctrine  is  applicable. Reliance in this connection is placed on Municipal Committee Amritsar  and  anr. v. The State of Rajasthan(1).   In  that case a Division Bench of this Court lays down that an Indian Act  cannot  be  declared  invalid on  the  ground  that  it violates  the due process clause or that it is vague.   Shah J, speaking for the Division Bench, observes:               "......  the rule that an Act of  a  competent               legislature may be ’struck down’ by the courts               on  the  ground of vagueness is alien  to  our               constitutional system.  The Legislature of the               State   of  Punjab  was  competent  to   enact               legislation in respect of ’fairs’, vide  Entry               28  of  List  II of the 7th  Schedule  to  the               Constitution.   A law may be declared  invalid               by  the  superior  courts  in  India  if   the               legislature  has no power to enact the law  or               that  the law violates any of the  fundamental               rights   guaranteed   in  Part  III   of   the               Constitution  or  is  inconsistent  with   any               constitutional  provision,  but  not  on   the               ground that it is vague." The  learned  Judge refers to the practice  of  the  Supreme Court  of the United State in Claude C. Caually  v.  General Construction Co.(2) where it was observed:               "A  statute which either forbids  or  requires               the doing of an act in terms so vague that men               of common intelligence must necessarily  guess               at   its   meaning  and  differ  as   to   its               application  violates the first  essential  of               due process of law."               The learned Judge observes in relation to this



             as follows               "But  the  rule  enunciated  by  the  American               Courts   has   no   application   under    our               constitutional set up.  This rule is regarded               as an essential of the ’due process               (1) A.I.R. 1960 S.C. 1100.                3--436SupCI/71               (2) (1926) 70 L. Ed. 332.               47 0               clause’    incorporated   in   the    American               Constitution  by the 5th and 14th  Amendments.               The  courts  in  India have  no  authority  to               declare  a statute invalid on the ground  that               it  violates ’the due process of law’.   Under               our  Constitution, the test of due process  of               law cannot be applied to the statutes  enacted               by the Parliament or the State Legislature". Relying  on the observations of Kania C.J. in A. K.  Gopalan v. The State of Madras(1) to the effect that a law cannot be declared  void because it is opposed to the spirit  supposed to pervade the Constitution but not expressed in words,  the conclusion above set out is reiterated.  The learned  Judge, however,  adds  that the words ’cattle fair’  in  act  there considered are sufficiently clear and there is no vagueness. These  observations which are clearly obiter are apt  to  be too generally applied and need to be explained.  While it is true that the principles evolved by the Supreme Court of the United   States  of  America  in  the  application  of   the Fourteenth  Amendment were eschewed in our Constitution  and instead  the  limits of restrictions,, on  each  fundamental right  were indicated in the clauses that follow  the  first clause  of the nineteenth article, it cannot be said  as  an absolute  principle that no law will be considered  bad  for sheer   vagueness.   There  is  ample  authority   for   the proposition  that a law affecting fundamental rights may  be so  considered.  A very partinent example is to be found  in State of Madhya Pradesh and Anr. v. Baldeo Prasad (2)  where the  Central  Provinces  and  Berar  Goondas  Act  1946  was declared  void  for  uncertainty.  ’the  condition  for  the application of ss. 4 and 4A was that the person sought to be proceeded  against  must be a goonda but the  definition  of goonda  in  the Act indicated no tests  for  deciding  which person  fell  within the definition.   The  provisions  were therefore held to be uncertain and vague. The real rule is that if a law is vague or appears to be so, the  court  must try to construe it, as far as may  be,  and language permitting, the construction sought to be placed on it,  must  be  in  accordance  with  the  intention  of  the legislature.    Thus   if  the  law  is  open   to   diverse construction, that construction which accords best with  the intention  of  the legislature and advances the  purpose  of legislation,  is  to be preferred.  Where  however  the  law admits  of no such construction and the persons applying  it are  in  a boundless sea of uncertainty and  the  law  prima facie takes away a guaranteed freedom, the law must be  held to  offend the Constitution as was done in the case  of  the Goonda Act.  This is not application of the doctrine of  due process.  The invalidity arises from the (1) [1950] S. C. R. 88. (2) [1961] 1. S. C. R. 970 at 979. 4 7 1 probability  of the misuse of the law to the  deteriment  of the individual.  If possible, the Court instead of  striking down  the law may itself draw the line of demarcation  where possible  but this effort should be sparingly made and  only



in the clearest of cases. Judging  the directions from this angle, we find that  there are  general principles regarding the films as a  whole  and specific  instances of what may be considered  as  offending the public interest as disclosed in the clause that  follows the  enunication  of  the freedoms in  Art.  19(1)(a).   The general  principles which are stated in the directions  seek to  do no more than restate the permissible restrictions  as stated in cl. (2) of Art. 19 and S. 5-B(1) of the Act.  They cannot  be  said  to  be  vague  at  all.   Similarly,   the principles  in  S.  IV  of the  directions  in  relation  to children  and  young persons, are quite  specific  and  also salutary  and  no exception can be taken.  It  is  only  the instances which are given in Section I Clauses A to D  which need  to be considered.  Read individually they  give  ample direction  as to what may not be included.  It is argued  on the, basis of some American cases already noticed by us that these  expressions are vague.  We do not agree.   The  words used are within the common understanding of the average man. For  example  the  word ’rape’ indicate what  the  word  is, ordinarily, understood to mean.  It is hardly to be expected or  necessary that the definition of rape in the Penal  Code must  be set down to further expose the meaning.   The  same may  be  said  about  almost  all  the  terms  used  in  the directions  and discussed before us.  We do not  propose  to deal  with each topic for that is really a  profitless  ven- ture.   Fundamental rights are to be judged in  a  broadway. It  is not a question of semantics but of the  substance  of the  matter.  It is significant that Justice Douglas who  is in favour of a very liberal and absolute application of  the First  Amendment  in  America is of the  view  that  ’sexual promiscuity’  was not vague, while those in favour of  prior restraints thought that it was.  We have referred earlier to the  case.   We  are  quite  clear  that  expressions   like ’seduction’, ’immoral traffic in women’.  ’soliciting, pros- titution or procuration’, ’indelicate sexual situation’  and ’scenes  suggestive  of  immorality’, ’traffic  and  use  of drugs’,   ’class   hatred"   ’blackmail   associated    with immorality’ are within the understanding of the average  men and  more so of persons who are likely to be the  panel  for purposes  of censorship.  Any more definiteness is not  only not  expected  but  is  not possible.   Indeed  if  we  were required  to  draw up a list we would also follow  the  same general pattern. But what appears to us to be the real flaw in the scheme  of the  directions  is a total absence of any  direction  which would  tend  to preserve art and promote it.   The  artistic appeal  or presentation  of  an episode  robs  it  of  its vulgarity and harm and this appears. 472 to be completely forgotten.  Artistic as well as  inartistic presentations  are  treated  alike  and  also  what  may  be socially  good  and useful and what may not.  In  Ranjit  D. Udeshi’s case(1) this court laid down certain Principles  on which  the obscenity of a book was to be considered  with  a view  to  deciding  whether the book should  be  allowed  to circulate  or  withdrawn.  Those  principles  apply  mutatis mutandis  to films and also other areas  besides  obscenity. The Khosla Committee also adopted them and recommended  them for the guidance of the film censors.  We may reproduce them here as summarized by the Khosla Committee:               "The  Supreme  Court laid down  the  following               principles which must be carefully studied and               applied by our censors when they have to  deal               with  a film said to be objectionable  on  the



             ground of indecency or immorality :-               (1)   Treating with sex and nudity in art  and               literature  cannot be regarded as evidence  of               obscenity without something more.               (2)   Comparison  of one book with another  to               find  the extent of permissible action is  not               necessary.               (3)   The  delicate task of deciding  what  is               artistic  and  what  is  obscene  has  to   be perfo rmed  by courts and in the last  resort,               by the Supreme Court and so, oral evidence  of               men of literature or others on the question of               obscenity is not relevant.               (4)   An overall view of the obscene matter in               the setting of the whole work would of  course               be  necessary but the obscene matter  must  be               considered  by itself and separately  to  find               out  whether it is so gross and its  obscenity               is so decided that it is likely to deprave  or               corrupt   those  whose  minds  are   open   to               influence  of this sort and into  whose  hands               the book is likely to fall.               (5)The interest s of contemporary society  and               particularly  the influence of the book  etc.,               on it must not be overlooked.               (6)   Where  obscenity and art are mixed,  art               must   be  so  preponderating  as   to   throw               obscenity into shadow or render the  obscenity               so trivial and insignificant that it can  have               no effect and can be overlooked.               (7)   Treating with sex in a manner  offensive               to  public decency or morality which  are  the               words of our               (1) [1965] 1 S. C. R. 65               473               Fundamental  Law judged by our national  stan-               dards  and  considered  likely  to  pender  to               lascivious,  prurient or  sexually  precocious               minds must determine the result.               (8)   When  there  is  propagation  of  ideas,               opinions and informations or public  interests               or profits, the interests of society may  tilt               the  scales  in  favour  of  free  speech  and               expression.   Thus% books on  medical  science               with  intimate illustrations  and  photographs               though  in  a sense immodest, are  not  to  be               considered obscene, but the same illustrations               and  photographs  collected  in  a  book  from               without  the medical text would  certainly  be               considered to be obscene.               (9)   Obscenity   without   a   preponderating               social  purpose  or  profit  cannot  have  the               constitutional  protection of free  speech  or               expression.  Obscenity is treating with sex in               a manner appealing to the carnal side of human               nature  or  having  that  tendency.   Such   a               treating with sex is offensive to modesty and,               decency.               (1 0)Knowledge,  is not a part of the  guilty               act.    The   offender’s  knowledge   of   the               obscenity  of the book is not  required  under               the law and it is a case of strict liability." Applicationof these principles does not seek to  whittle down the fundamentalright of free speech and expression beyond the limits permissibleunder  our  Constitution   for



however  high  or  cherished that right it does  not  go  to pervert  or  harm  society  and the line  has  to  be  drawn somewhere.  As was observed in the same case:               "..  .....  The  test  which  we  evolve  must               obviously  be  of a general character  but  it               must admit of a just application from case  to               case  by indicating a line of demarcation  not               necessarily sharp but sufficiently distinct to               distinguish between that which is obscene  and               that which is not..........." A similar line has to be drawn in the case of every topic in films  considered  unsuitable  for  _public  exhibition   or specially to children. We  may now illustrate our meaning how even the  items  men- tioned in the directions may figure in films subject  either to their artistic merit or their social value  over-weighing their  offending  character.   The task  of  the  censor  is extremely  delicate and his duties cannot be the subject  of an exhaustive set of commands. 47 4 established  by  prior  ratiocination.   But  direction   is necessary to him so that he does not sweep within the  terms of  the  directions  vast  areas  of  thought,  speech   and expression  of  artistic  quality  and  social  purpose  and interest.  our standards must be so framed that we  are  not reduced to a level where the protection of the least capable and the most depraved amongst us determines what the morally healthy cannot view or read.  The standards that we set  for our  censors must make a substantial allowance in favour  of freedom  thus  leaving  a  vast area  for  creative  art  to interpret  life and society with some of its  foibles  along with  what  is  good.   We must not  look  upon  such  human relationships  as  banned in toto and for  ever  from  human thought  and must give scope for talent to put  them  before society.   The  requirements of art and  literature  include within  themselves- a comprehensive view of social life  and not only in its ideal form and the line is to be drawn where the  average  man moral man begins to  feel  embarrassed  or disgusted at a naked portrayal of life without the redeeming touch  of  art or genius or social value.  If  the  depraved begins  to  see in these things more than  what  an  average person would, in much the same way, as it is wrongly said, a Frenchman  sees a woman’s legs in everything, it  cannot  be helped.   In  our scheme of things  ideas  having  redeeming social  or  artistic  value must also  have  importance  and protection  for  their growth.  Sex and  obscenity  are  not always synonymous and it is wrong to classify sex as  essen- tially  obscene or even indecent or immoral.  It  should  be our concern, however, to prevent the use of sex designed  to play a commerical role by making its own appeal.  This draws in  the  censors scissors.  Thus audiences in India  can  be expected to view with equanimity the story of Oedipus son of Latius  who committed patricide and incest with his  mother. When  the  seer  Tiresias exposed him,  his  sister  Jocasta committed suicide by hanging herself and Oedipus put out his own  eyes.  No one after viewing these episodes would  think that   patricide  or  incest  with  one’s  own   mother   is permissible or suicide in such circumstances or tearing  out one’s  own  eyes is a natural consequence.  And yet  if  one goes  by  the letter of the directions the  film  cannot  be shown.  Similarly, scenes depicting leprosy as a theme in a story  or in A documentary are not necessarily  outside  the protection.  If that were so Verrier Elwyn’s Phulmat of  the Hills  or  the  same  episode  in  Henryson’s  Testament  of Cresseid (from where Verrier Elwyn borrowed the idea)  would



never see the light of the day.  Again carnage and bloodshed may  have historical value and the depiction of such  scenes as  the  sack of Delhi by Nadirshah may be  permissible,  if handled  delicately and as part of an artistic portrayal  of the confrontation with Mohammad Shah Rangila.  If Nadir Shah made  golgothas  of skulls, must we leave them  out  of  the story  :because  people must be made to  view  a  historical theme  without true history ? Rape in all its nakedness  may be objectionable but Vol- 47 5 taire’s  Candide would’ be meaningless  without  Cunegonde’s episode  with  the soldier and the story  of  Lucrece  could never be depicted on the screen. Therefore  it is not the elements of rape,  leprosy,  sexual immorality  which should attract the censor’s  scissors  but how the theme is handled by the producer.  It must, however, be  remembered that the, cinematograph is a powerful  medium and its appeal is different.  The horrors of war as depicted in the famous etchings of Goya do not horrify one so much as the  same  scenes  rendered in colour  and  with  sound  and movement, would do.  We may view a documentary on the erotic tableaux  from our ancient temples with equanimity  or  read the  Kamasutra  but a documentary from them as  a  practical sexual guide would be abhorrent. We  have said all this to show that the items  mentioned  in the  directions  are not by themselves defective.   We  have adhered to the 43 points of T.P. O’Connor framed in 1918 and have  made  a comprehensive list of what may not  be  shown. Parliament has left this task to the Central Government and, in our opinion, this could be done.  But Parliament has  not legislated enough, nor has the Central Government filled  in the gap Neither has separated the artistic and the  sociably valuable from that which is deliberately indecent,  obscene, horrifying or corrupting.  They have not indicated the  need of  society and the freedom of the, individual.   They  have thought more of the depraved and less of the ordinary  moral man.  In their desire to keep films from the abnormal,  they have excluded the moral.  They have attempted to bring  down the public motion picture to the level of home movies. It  was  for this purpose that this Court was  at  pains  to point   out   in   Ranjit  D.   Udeshi’s   case(1)   certain considerations for the guidance of censorship of books.   We think that those guides work as well here.  Although we are, not inclined to hold that the directions are defective in so far  as  they  go, we are, of  opinion  that  directions  to emphasize  the importance of art to a value judgment by  the censors  need to be included.  Whether this is done by  Par- liment or by the Central Government it hardly matters.   The whole  of  the law and the regulations under  it  will  have always  to be considered and if the further tests laid  down here  are  followed,  the  system  of  censorship  with  the procedural safeguards accepted by the Solicitor General will make censorship accord with our fundamental law. We allow this petition as its purpose is more than served by the  assurance  of the Solicitor General and  what  we  have said, but in the circumstances we make no order about costs. Petition allowed. R.K.P.S. (1)[1965] 1 S.C.R 65 476