Noteworthy News and Analysis from Around the World

In-Depth Coverage of Issues Concerning the Global Sikh Community Including Self-Determination, Democracy, Human Rights, Civil Liberties, Antiracism, Religion, and South Asian Geopolitics

Home | News Analysis Archive | Biographies | Book Reviews | Events | Photos | Links | About Us | Contact Us

Punjab Ban on The Da Vinci Code Unacceptable


The Tribune, May 27, 2006

Photo: The Da Vinci Code, a novel by Dan Brown, is the basis of a movie of the same name

Code for misconduct

The ban on the screening of The Da Vinci Code in Punjab is totally uncalled for and no circumstances exist to warrant the extreme action of the state government. The reasons cited by Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and officials fly in the face of reality. Hence, the ban on the film is nothing but brazen misuse of political power for partisan ends. It is a Western film, made by a Christian and based on a novel by a Christian author [Dan Brown]; and on the day of its release in the Christian world, it broke all records to rake in close to $ 240 million. Mindful of the religious sentiments, of not only minorities but all right-thinking sections, the Central Board of Film Certification (C.B.F.C.) tagged it 'Adults' and stipulated a disclaimer that the film is a work of fiction. Once this civilised compromise was reached, the controversy died down.

Now the Punjab government has clamped down on the film citing reasons of law and order. There is not a shred of evidence to suggest a breakdown of law and order if the film is released, as it was scheduled to be on Friday. Therefore, the grounds stated are not just specious, but fabrication constructed on falsehood. First, this is a blatant violation of the right to freedom of expression and the ban order does not pass the test of being a 'reasonable restriction' envisaged in the Constitution. Second, once the C.B.F.C. certifies a film to be fit for public exhibition, no state government should take the law into its own hands and issue diktats against the right of the public to view the film. The action is constitutionally and legally questionable as it undermines, if not nullifies, the C.B.F.C.'s clearance. It is the duty of the state government to uphold the authority of the C.B.F.C. and ensure that its writ prevails.

The Punjab government must lift the ban on the film forthwith. Unless, of course, the real motive in proclaiming a ban is to ensure that The Da Vinci Code attracts an even larger audience, including for D.V.D.s and C.D.s. After all, more people would flock to see a forbidden film. Regardless of the ostensible reasons given for the ban, the decision is a clear case of gross misconduct as well as extreme stupidity.