Director Ram Gopal Varma has irked the censor board by tampering with the national anthem for the song Jana gana mana rann hai in his upcoming film Rann which stars megastar Amitabh Bachchan. Lawyers say there is no specific law to prevent people from doing so.
According to the Prevention of Insults to National Honour Act, 1971, a person could be charged with a criminal offence with regard to the national anthem only if he or she “intentionally prevents the singing of the Indian national anthem or causes disturbances to any assembly engaged in such singing”.
“I don’t see why justice is going to the roads. When there is no punishment for the act according to the law, nothing can be done about it. I have heard the song and there is no dishonour to the national anthem,” said Supreme Court lawyer Pinki Anand.
“Freedom of speech and expression is a fundamental right of every Indian citizen. And when there is no system of law against what the filmmaker has done, no amount of people taking to the roads and agitation can help,” she added.
Jayant Bhushan, a senior advocate, echoed similar sentiments and said: “Freedom of speech is important. One shouldn’t be too sensitive. I don’t think the filmmaker has dented the national anthem by just changing a few lines. The dignity of the national anthem is not so fragile.”
Varma is now moving Supreme Court after the censor board refused permission to air the song, said producer Madhu Mantena.
However, Lalit Bhasin said that the CBFC can ban either a part or the entire film “if its content is socially misgiving and creates unrest among people”.
“But if the filmmakers are going to appeal to the court, only the judges will have the final say,” he said.