In the case of Sudhir Kumar v Union of India, A social activist filed a Public Interest Litigation to prevent Al Jazeera Media Network Private Ltd., a news station with offices in India and Doha (Qatar), from airing the movie “India: Who Lighted the Fuse? in India. The petitioner further requested that the Union of India be ordered to examine and certify the contested film prior to its broadcast. A request for an investigation of the film’s and Al Jazeera’s credentials was also made because they could undermine public harmony and endanger the integrity of the country.
Analysis of court verdict
After weighing the negative effects that could result from the film’s telecast, the division bench of the Allahabad High Court’s Justice Ashwani Kumar Mishra and Justice Ashutosh Srivastava decided that the film’s telecast should be postponed while the basis of the current petition is being considered.
The Court took notice of the petitioner’s significant accusations in the writ petition that the film in question was based on false information and intended to disturb social and communal harmony in the largest democracy in the world, which is built on the idea of a just social order. Additionally, it was claimed that Al Jazeera intended to go beyond the bounds of constitutional protections by imposing reasonable limitations on the right to free speech and expression by preparing to release the movie without first getting the necessary certificate from the relevant statutory authorities. The Court ruled that while the Indian Constitution guarantees the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression, those rights are also subject to the comprehensible limitations outlined in Article 19(2) of the Indian Constitution. The fundamental right to free speech and expression is protected by a comprehensive set of safeguards included in both the Constitution and the laws that have been referenced.
The Court decided that the film’s broadcast should be postponed while the reason for the current petition is being considered after taking into account the negative effects that the transmission of the film is expected to have. Furthermore, if the film is permitted to be telecast after the necessary examination of the grounds highlighted in the current appeal, Al Jazeera won’t suffer an irreparable loss. The subject will be discussed again on July 6, 2023.