The Lahore High Court on Thursday issued a notice to the Central Censor Board and Pakistan Electronic Media Association (PEMA) for December 16 on a petition by Pakistan Cinema Owners Association and distributors of films to become party in the case against exhibition of Indian movies.
Barrister Ali Zafar appeared before the court on behalf of the petitioners and said that the case filed by a private TV show host against exhibition of Indian films was a misrepresentation an ex-parte order for stopping the Central Board of Censors from certifying smuggled films only.
He said the Pakistan Motion Pictures Ordinance and the Censorship of Films Rules, which govern the jurisdiction of the Censor Board, did not prohibit the certification and exhibition of any Indian films.
He said the Censor Board could refuse to certify a film prejudicial to the glory of Islam or the integrity, security or defence of Pakistan.
He said the Censor Board was duty-bound to examine and certify films on a case-to-case basis.
He said the revival of Pakistani films depended on the existence of cinemas and his clients had invested heavily in setting up state-of-the-art centres in Pakistan.
He said the people of Pakistan were starved for entertainment and appreciated the revival of the “cinema culture” which also presented a soft image of Pakistan to the rest of the world.
He said the existence of the cinema had revived a form of art and culture in Pakistan and the Pakistani film industry had seen a resurgence of quality films.
He said the petitioner had sought to ban all Indian films and the court’s order could mean the death of cinemas in Pakistan.
He added that the livelihood of thousands of people employed in the industry would be jeopardised.
He said that although the court had not stopped the Censor Board from certifying Indian films and only banned smuggled films, the chairman was delaying certification of legally imported films as well.
Earlier the court had banned smuggled films in the country.
The petitioner had submitted that the exhibition of all Indian films, TV dramas and other programmes was in violation of Section 270-A Motion Pictures Ordinance 1979 and Martial Law Order 81.
The petitioner had requested the court to accept the petition and issue directions to all respondents to stop the exhibition of all type of Indian content on Pakistan’s channels.
Meanwhile, India’s Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari on Thursday criticised the Pakistani court’s order to stop the screening of Indian content on TV channels, saying that films and serials were ideas that couldn’t be stopped.
In a tweet, Tewari said, “Pakistani jingoists should know that films and TV serials are ideas and ideas can’t be barred.
The Pakistani government must remove them from negative list ASAP.”
The ban on Indian films has been widely criticised since it was announced last week.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 13th, 2013.
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