Ram Gopal Varma wrote a letter to State Commisson For Protection Of Child Rights regarding 'Sridevi' posters controversy.
To all concerned so as to stop the mindless speculations going all over the place in the various media outlets I am releasing this press note
My reply to the STATE COMMISSION FOR PROTECTION OF CHILD RIGHTS with regard to "Saavitri" poster
1.I am the respondent / recipient of the Official Memorandum in SCPCR Case No. 71/2014 and as such I am acquainted with the case and has locus to file this affidavit along with the petition.
2.I have received the Official Memorandum dated 04/10/2014 from SCPCR addressed to the Commissioner of Police and myself.
3.BRIEF OF THE OFFICIAL MEMORANDUM: The brief of the information in the memorandum is that the SCPCR has taken up a Suo Moto Case regarding a Movie Poster – ‘Savitri’ which appeared in Daily news papers on 3/10/2014 which shows a small child looking at his teacher with sexual desires and that the teacher was shown exposing herself and such issue is a violation of Child rights and is against using children for such kind of posters. The official memorandum also contended that it comes under JJ Act, 2000 (Sec 21-26), IPC Sec 292 (1),(2), POCSO Act Sec. 13 and 14 (1) & Young persons (Harmful Publication) Act 1956. The official memorandum also directed the Commissioner of Police to enquire into this matter and submit Action Taken Report by 8/9/2014. It further directed me, assuming me to be the director of the said film to submit a explanatory report
The fact is that the film is produced by Cosmic pictures and directed by Kiran prasad and is only presented by me
b. The film is about a 15 year old boys infatuation towards a 25 year old woman.The woman is not a teacher as assumed by the concerned...The story is that the boy of young age just sexually awakening and the film is primarily about how he gets affected due to his exposure to pornography and various such other things present in today's culture and also how he is influenced by such things as glamorous heroines and to advertisers using sex to sell their products.
c. The young artiste featuring in the poster is 15 years of age and is doing his ssc..he is a professional actor who acted in films before too..the parents of the artiste
e of his parents.
f. The parentsartiste are well aware of the story of the feature film and have provided their unfettered consent to it.
5.By basing on the SCPCR Official Memorandum with reference to the Suo-Moto Case it is very unfortunate that the SCPCR has without considering the facts nor verifying it from the concerned people has held that the issue with reference to the feature film poster released with regard to the movie “Savitri” comes under Sec.21 to 26 of Juvenile Justice Act, 2000, Sec.13 and 14 of Prevention of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 and Young Persons (Harmful Publication) Act, 1956 and Sec. 292 (1) and (2) of Indian Penal Code.
6.This action of the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights is highly preconceived, illegal and against the principles of natural justice apart being contrary to the Right to Freedom of Speech and Expression guaranteed by the Constitution of India.
7.It is pertinent to note that this movie tentatively titled “Savitri” is a feature film with an object of putting forth the view of a young person with regard to the infatuation towards the sexual issues.
8.It is also pertinent to note that movie director expects to put forth some issue of the society for dissemination before public with a view to bring discussion about that issue and such action cannot be viewed with a narrow perspective and stamped as illegal nor can be stuck at the very inception with preconceived ignorant notions of some persons. It is necessary for any statutory or constitutional body to protect the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Constitution of India.
9.It is to state that the SCPCR has prematurely stated that the very poster of the feature film attracts different provisions of law without any examination of facts or evidence and without proper application of mind.
10.On legal advise it is to state that the Commission according to The Commissions For Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 is ought to inquire into the matter pertaining to violation of child rights and recommend initiation of proceedings in such cases, but this is a case where it is pertinent to note that the rights of the child – the young artiste are no way affected as he is continuing to pursue his education and the artiste is performing in the movie under the guidance and supervision of his parents and the parents are in complete acceptance of the story. Further there is no exploitation of any of the child rights.
11.It also to further state that as such there is no violation of child rights this SCPCR lacks jurisdiction to further on the issue of a simple feature film poster.
12.It is to state that SCPCR has not properly applied its mind in dealing with the facts on record and with preconceived notions affecting the on the following grounds:
a.It is to state that Sec. 21 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 deals with Prohibition of publication of name, etc. of juvenile in conflict with law or child in need of care and protection involved in proceeding under the act which is generally in relation to juvenile in conflict with law, but the SCPCR has applied this section to the poster of a feature film which is illegal and without proper application of mind.
b.It is that Sec. 22 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 deals with provision in respect of a juvenile who has escaped from a special home or an observation home or from the care of a person but the SCPCR has said that the subject matter of a young artiste working in a feature film comes under this section which is unfair, arbitrary and illegal.
c.Sec. 23 Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 deals with the punishment for cruelty to a child which is not applicable in this case as the child is working in the feature film with all his mind in place and with the consent of the natural guardians who are well acquainted with the content of the story of the film.
d.In the film no child leaving aside the artiste is employed for begging but the SCPCR without verification of minimal facts says that Sec. 24 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 which deals employment of juvenile or child for begging is applicable.
e.Neither the presenter, nor the director or for such reason anybody associated with the movie “Savitri” in a supervisory nature of duties have intoxicated liquor or narcotic drug or psychotropic substance to juvenile or child, but the SCPCR states that Sec 25 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 dealing with penalty for such acts is applicable.
f.The action of an artiste even it being a Child Artiste in a feature film cannot be a hazardous employment in any sense and more over none of the producing unit or me have withhold anybodys earnings but without properly looking into the facts the SCPCR says that Sec.26 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection) Act, 2000 which deals with exploitation of juvenile or child employee.
g.It is very unfortunate to see that the SCPCR states that Sec. 13 and 14 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012 is applicable to a feature film just by looking into a poster with a temporary title and further proceeds. The said sections deals with using Child for pornographic purpose and purposes of sexual gratification. I am astonished with such a preconceived notion. Would the very action of a poster of a feature film in which an young artiste looking at a woman’sbody which is exposed at stomach would amount to sexual gratification or any porn, I think the very interpretation is very regressive and is not within the permissible limits of our community standards.
h.The SCPCR illegally and arbitrarily assumes the power of the government to declare any publication as harmful and speaks about a feature film poster falling under the ambit of Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956.
i.The SCPCR with a regressive interpretation binds the poster of the feature film “Savitri” as a material to attract Sec. 292 of IPC which is against the very standards of today’s community perspective and is against the artiste’s right of freedom of speech and expression.
13.It is also pertinent to note that The Central Board of Film Certification (often referred to as the Censor Board) is a statutory censorship and classification body under the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Government of India is tasked with "regulating films under the provisions of the Cinematograph Act 1952". It assigns certifications to films, television shows, television ads, and publications for exhibition, sale or hire in India. Films can be publicly exhibited in India only after they are certified by the Board.
14.The relevant portion of the Cinematograph Act 1952 is given below
a.Principles for guidance in certifying films.
b. 5B. (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 1[the sovereignty and integrity of India] the security of the State,
friendly relations with foreign 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.”
Hence, it is clear that Cinematograph Act 1952 determines Censor Board as the competent body to determine or deal with feature films.
15.It is also further to state that the SCPCR has failed in properly examining the facts or evidence on record and even before seeking any explanation issued a official memorandum stating that Sec.21 to 26 of Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2000, Sec. 13 and 14 of The Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012, The Young Persons (Harmful Publications) Act, 1956 and Sec. 292 of IPC, without application of mind and with preconceived notions and against the procedure as contemplated in The Commissions for Protection of Child Rights Act, 2005 by assuming jurisdiction and also in violation of the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed by Constitution and contrary to the principles of natural justice.
16.Finally it is to state that I am a responsible person with ample experience in both life and profession where in I abide by law of this country and this sort of official memorandum has subjected negativity to me as a person and also as a professional thereby defamed me physically, mentally and also monetarily.
Hence, i hope that the State Commission for Protection of Child Rights may be pleased to drop all the further proceedings and close SCPCR Case No. 71/ 2014.
Ram Gopal Varma