February 25, 2022

Himachal High Court

  Vijyender Sharma

Shimla--- Taking serious note of the non-compliance of the High Court order by the State Government, regarding notifying the constitution of an independent State Transport Appellate Tribunal, within one month, the High Court of H.P. today granted one last opportunity to the State to comply with the aforesaid orders before 29.03.20211.

             The Division Bench comprising the Chief Justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua said that the non-compliance of the order passed by the High Court before the next date shall be viewed seriously and appropriate order shall be passed on the next date i.e. 29.03.2022.

The Court in it earlier order had observed that despite the series of orders passed by the Court, the State Government has not taken any decision to set up an independent State Transport Appellate Tribunal and the matter is pending before the Court for the last four years. In its earlier orders the Court held that the Law Secretary cannot discharge the quasi-judicial functions of the Tribunal and rightly so because for him to preside over the Tribunal while simultaneously working as Law Secretary of the State could give rise to conflict of interest because he may have to be in that capacity to deal with the matter involving interest of State.

In the earlier hearing the Court also observed that the first requirement for the State Government would be to notify the constitution of such number of Tribunals, depending upon the workload, as it may deem fit. Once the Tribunal is constituted, it has to be given all the paraphernalia, including building and necessary staff. Once the regular Tribunal is constituted by the State Government in consultation with the High Court, it would be decided by the High Court on administrative side as to who should be posted as Presiding Officer in the Tribunal and whether one Presiding Officer of the Tribunal should be given additional charge of another Tribunal.

In an another matter, the High Court of H.P today issued notices to the Centre Government, State Government and the Central Board of Film Certification, Mumbai, Maharashtra, in a matter seeking directions to frame guidelines prohibiting practice of insulting great leaders, freedom fighters, national heroes and honour of the nation on social media and to effectively regulate the content being published on Over The Top (OTT) platform.

The Division bench comprising the Chief justice Mohammad Rafiq and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua passed these orders on a petition filed by one Bhupinder Sharma, a practicing advocate in the High Court of H.P. who has alleged that on the OTT platform "Limelight", a trailer of the movie "Why I killed Gandhi was released, and the trailer shows that the movie clearly attempts to tarnish the image of the Father of the Nation and at the same time glorifies Nathuram Godse for killing Mahatma Gandhi.

According to the petitioner, from the very title of the movie it is evident that this is a mischievous attempt by few fundamentalists to justify the "Killing of the Father of Nation". He has alleged that in the said movie, Nathu Ram Godse has been presented as a hero and saviour notwithstanding the fact that he is a person who stands convicted by Court of law, in independent India after standing trial and after having been found to be guilty on the basis of evidence produced before the Court.

The petitioner has alleged that the movie clearly violates all the guidelines issued by the Central Government for regulation of films of the public exhibition under the Cinematographs Act, 1952. The petitioner has prayed to direct the respondents to frame guidelines for prohibiting the practice of insulting our great leaders, freedom fighters, national heroes in contravention to the constitutional provisions. The Petitioner has prayed to direct the respondent to remove all content of the film "Why I killed Gandhi'' from all online platforms and prohibit any further publication of the film. The petitioner has also prayed to direct the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to bring in force such regulations/guidelines to effectively regulate the content being published on the OTT platform.

The Court directed the respondents to file a reply within three weeks and posted the matter for 24.03.2022. 

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