The Delhi High Court rejected a plea to stay the release of Shanghai, a political thriller starring Emraan Hashmi and Abhay Deol, saying that there was nothing insulting in its song 'Bharat Mata ki jai' as it only depicted the "existing state of affairs" in the country.
"We do not find anything objectionable in the said song. In a democracy, every person has a right to voice his views and opinions... The same right to speech and expression cannot be curtailed except under some circumstances.
"The author of the song has merely sought to portray the existing state of affairs in India, once considered a golden bird.... (It) is now infested with diseases like dengue and malaria. The petition is dismissed," a bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajiv Shakdher said.
The court did not concur with the plea of Vikas Padora, counsel for Tejinder Singh Pal Bagga, president of 'Bhagat Singh Kranti Sena', that the government and its inactions may be criticised but not 'Bharat Mata' which symbolises national identity.
Padora had alleged that the term 'Bharat Mata' has been presented in the "most humiliating, outrageous and insulting manner" in the song and that it showed the writer had "no love and respect" for India. The term 'Bharat Mata' had driven people to make supreme sacrifices, Padora had said.
"Similar kinds of accusation were being made against great filmmaker Satyajit Ray that he used to sell darker side of India abroad," Justice Shakdher said during the arguments and added that "you cannot restrict artistic freedom."
Shanghai, directed by Dibakar Banerjee, also has Kalki Koechlin, Prosenjit Chatterjee and Amin Raj as actors and the movie, which is based on novel Z by Vassilis Vassilikos, is slated for release on June 8.
During arguments, the counsel for Bagga said, "The sentiments and emotions of millions of persons, who have not even heard the song so far, needed to be respected as terms like dengue and malaria...are used as synonyms for Bharat Mata."
The court was not convinced with the plea and dismissed the petition, which had sought directions to the Centre and the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) to take steps and ban the sale of audio CDs of the movie.
The petition has also sought the stay on screening of Shanghai in Delhi theatres till the deletion of the song from the film.