6. What is submitted by Mr. Manohar Lal Sharma at this juncture is that the first respondent is planning to exhibit the film in question in certain countries which have an international market. Mr. Salve has submitted that for the present, the first respondent has no intention to do any such thing, pending consideration of the application by the CBFC under the Act. Mr. Divan, learned senior counsel appearing for the respondent No. 2, has taken strong exception to the approach of the petitioner, in making scurrilous allegations in the petition which defames the respondent. We appreciate the concern expressed by the learned counsel for the respondents because the scrutiny of the film is still pending for consideration before the CBFC. Succinctly put, the prayer made in the petition in this regard has no foundation and it is bound to flounder and we so hold. Thus, the prayer loses its foundation.
7. The controversy does not end there. As stated earlier, the further prayer is for issuance of direction to the respondent no. 5 – CBI to register an FIR against respondent Nos. 1 and 2 and their team members for offence punishable under Section 7 of the Act read with Sections 153A, 295, 295A, 499 and 500 of the Indian Penal Code read with Section 4 of the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986. As far as Sections 499 and 500 of the IPC is concerned, police has no role. As far as the other offences are concerned, it is unfathomable how any offence is made out. There is no basis for this Court to direct registration of an FIR and we have no hesitation in stating that the prayer is absolutely misconceived.
8. At this stage, we are obligated to state that writ petitions are being filed even before the CBFC, which is the statutory authority, takes a decision. This is a most unfortunate situation showing how public interest litigation can be abused. The hunger for publicity or some other hidden motive should not propel one to file such petitions. They sully the temple of justice and intend to create dents in justice dispensation system. That apart, a petition is not to be filed to abuse others. The pleadings, as we have stated earlier, are absolutely scurrilous, vexatious and untenable in law, and we, accordingly, strike them off the record.
9. We must say in quite promptitude that when a matter is pending or going to be dealt with by the CBFC, no one who is holding any post of public responsibility should comment on how the application for certification is to be processed. That tantamounts to creating a sense of prejudice in the mind of the CBFC. The CBFC is expected to take decisions with utmost objectivity as per the provisions contained in the Act, the rules framed thereunder and the guidelines. If the Court cannot pre-judge the matter before the CBFC takes a decision, we fail to comprehend how anyone in public office can pre-judge the issue and make public utterances. They are not supposed to do so, and this position in law is accepted and acceded to by Mr. Maninder Singh and Mr. P.S. Narasimha, learned Additional Solicitors General, whose assistance we have sought. It should be borne in mind that we are governed by the basic tenets of the rule of law. When the matter is pending for grant of certification, if responsible people in power or public offices comment on the issue of certification pending consideration before the statutory authority, that is a violation of the rule of law. All concerned shall be guided by the basic premise of the rule of law and ought not to venture into violating the same. We say nothing more and nothing less, for the present.
10. Another aspect needs to be highlighted. A story told on celluloid or a play enacted on a stage or a novel articulated in a broad and large canvas or epic spoken with eloquence or a poem sung with passion or recited with rhythm has many a layer of freedom of expression of thought that requires innovation, skill, craftsmanship and, above all, individual originality founded on the gift of imagination or reality transformed into imagination or vice versa. The platform can be different and that is why, the creative instinct is respected and has the inherent protective right from within which is called artistic licence. In this regard, we may profitably reproduce a passage from Devidas Ramachandra Tuljapurkar v. State of Maharashtra and others, (2015) 6 SCC 1:-
“As far as the words “poetic licence”, are concerned, it can never remotely mean a licence as used or understood in the language of law. There is no authority who gives a licence to a poet. These are words from the realm of literature. The poet assumes his own freedom which is allowed to him by the fundamental concept of poetry. He is free to depart from reality; fly away from grammar; walk in glory by not following systematic metres; coin words at his own will; use archaic words to convey thoughts or attribute meanings; hide ideas beyond myths which can be absolutely unrealistic; totally pave a path where neither rhyme nor rhythm prevail; can put serious ideas in satires, ifferisms, notorious repartees; take aid of analogies, metaphors, similes in his own style, compare like “life with sandwiches that is consumed everyday” or “life is like peeling of an onion”, or “society is like a stew”; define ideas that can balloon into the sky never to come down; cause violence to logic at his own fancy; escape to the sphere of figurative truism; get engrossed in the “universal eye for resemblance”, and one can do nothing except writing a critical appreciation in his own manner and according to his understanding. When a poet says “I saw eternity yesterday night”, no reader would understand the term “eternity” in its prosaic sense. The Hamletian question has many a layer; each is free to confer a meaning; be it traditional or modern or individualistic. No one can stop a dramatist or a poet or a writer to write freely expressing his thoughts, and similarly none can stop the critics to give their comments whatever its worth. One may concentrate on Classical facets and one may think at a metaphysical level or concentrate on Romanticism as is understood in the poems of Keats, Byron or Shelley or one may dwell on Nature and write poems like William Wordsworth whose poems, say some, are didactic. One may also venture to compose like Alexander Pope or Dryden or get into individual modernism like Ezra Pound, T.S. Eliot or Pablo Neruda. That is fundamentally what is meant by poetic licence.”
We may categorically state that the artistic licence should be put on a high pedestal but the same has to be judged objectively on case to case basis.