Hearing the plea of the Gujarat government on not giving entertainment tax exemption to a Gujarati film
on homosexuality, the Supreme Court has pushed the release of the film in the cold storage, reports Indian Express
. A bench headed by Justices Anil R Dave and Adarsh K Goel granted leave in the matter. The bench also stated that its interim order of denying tax exemption to the movie ‘Meghdhanushya’ shall continue.
As per court procedure, ‘granting leave’ means that the case would be heard only after arguments in all cases, filed and admitted for hearing before it, are concluded.
In effect, filmmaker K.R. Devmani’s case, filed in 2014, will not be listed for hearing in ordinary course at least for three years from now.
‘Meghdhanushya’ focuses on a young boy who finds himself attracted to people of his own sex. It portrays the situations homosexuals face and conditions they live in.
A senior advocate Anand Grover, who was arguing for tax exemption for the movie, told the bench:
“If my lords are granting leave in this matter, it would virtually mean I have lost the case since a movie cannot wait so long for a decision.”
Grover also pointed out that another movie on the subject of homosexuality, ‘I am’, by filmmaker Onir was in fact given the National Award for the best film.
The bench said:
“We agree there can be different views. We know your personal views. But there are people in whose views this may be akin to social evils.”
Though the film could be released without seeking tax exemption, Grover argued that beside small-time filmmaker’s financial compulsions, the issue also relates to an individual’s fundamental right to speech and expression.
The lawyer also said that the issue also relates to the filmmaker’s right to be treated at par with filmmakers who have been given this benefit. Disappointed by the court order, Devmani said:
“I think the movie is killed. It cannot wait for another three or four years when there is no certainty that the court will eventually rule in my favour.”
Devmani further said that it is ironical that movies showing extra-marital relationships and containing scenes of rape and violence are given the exemption, but a movie depicting sufferings of a homosexual person does not pass the state’s muster.