Raja Chritable Trust & ANR. Vs. Union of India & ANR.  INSC 1773
(2 December 2009)
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION SPECIAL LEAVE PETITION NO.
32840 OF 2009 PAZHASSI RAJA CHARITABLE TRUST & ANR. ....Petitioner (S)
VERSUS ORDER SURINDER SINGH NIJJAR,J.
We have heard the learned counsel for the petitioner, Mr. Krishnan
Venugopal, Sr. Adv. and the counsel for the respondent Union of India, Mr.
This matter was mentioned yesterday when the Court directed it to
be listed today as Item No.1. The petitioner claims to have produced a Malyalam
film of national importance, called "PAZHASSI RAJA". Its purpose is
to 2 enlighten people about the heroic life history of `SHRI KERALA VERMA
PAZHASSI RAJA". For wider circulation the film has been dubbed into Hindi,
Tamil and Telugu and English. It is said to have been widely acclaimed. The
petitioner claims that inspite of the artistic and historic importance of the
film, it has been arbitrarily not accepted for screening at the International
Film Festival of India - 2009. Aggrieved against the wholly arbitrary conduct
and actions of the selectors at the Film Festival, the petitioner has
unsuccessfully approached the Kerala, as well, Delhi High Court.
Learned counsel submitted that the Learned Single Judge of the
Delhi High Court misdirected itself in not granting the interim relief. In view
of the fact that the film festival was coming to an end on 3rd December 2009,
in the absence of interim relief, the petitioner will be left remedy-less.
counsel submitted that the Learned Single Judge failed to address any of the
issues alleged in the writ petition.
of the fact that there had been a flagrant disregard of a mandatory regulation,
viz., the Regulation 8.2 of the Indian 3 Panorama Regulation, 2009, grant of
interim relief would be a natural consequence.
The petitioner has filed a writ petition in the Delhi High Court
which is pending adjudication. In the aforesaid writ petition the Learned
Single Judge of the High Court has issued notice to the respondents to show
cause as to why rule nisi be not issued. Necessary direction has been issued
for exchange of affidavits. The matter has been directed to be listed for
hearing on 13th of April 2010. The petitioner approached the High Court earlier
by way of writ petition making similar grievance as is made in the present
proceedings. This writ petition was disposed of on 27.10.2009 by granting
liberty to the petitioner to make a representation to the respondent.
a representation was made on 30.10.2009.
issues relating to the merits of the petitioner's film including its historical
importance as well as other irregularities and illegalities in the procedure followed
by the Jury in the selection process were highlighted. When the representation
was not disposed of the petitioner filed the second writ petition. At the
motion hearing of the writ petition 4 an assurance was given by the respondents
to consider the representation of the petitioner forthwith. Thus, this writ
petition was also disposed of with a direction to the respondents to take a
view on the representation. Ultimately, the representation submitted by the
petitioner has been decided on 19.11.2009. The claim of the petitioner has been
rejected. Therefore, petitioner approached the Delhi High Court for the third
time by way of writ petition i.e., Writ Petition (c) No.13352 of 2009. In this
writ petition a Civil Miscellaneous Application No.14682 of 2009 was filed
seeking a direction to the respondent for screening the film of the petitioner
as a special entry. This Civil Miscellaneous Application has been dismissed by
the Learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court by the impugned order dated
We may also notice here that another aggrieved producer of another
film had approached the Kerala High Court with similar relief. Initially a
Single Judge of the Kerala High Court granted interim relief and stayed the
screening of all films.
was carried in appeal before the Division Bench.
the Division Bench it was submitted that the writ petitioner will not come in
the way of conducting the festival.
be satisfied if it is ensured that the respondents strictly complied with the
regulation in future. Necessary direction was issued by the Division Bench to
the respondent that it shall abide by the regulation in future.
Mr. Venugopal vehemently argued that if the petitioner is denied
the interim relief the writ petition itself would be rendered infructuous.
Learned counsel also submitted that even though the remedy of approaching the
Division Bench in Letters Patent Appeal is available, in the facts of this case
it was necessary to move this Court as this Court can mould the relief under
Article 142 of the Constitution of India. Learned counsel submitted that the
superior courts are not powerless to grant interim relief, even in cases, where
there is a flagrant breach of statutory rules which are mandatory in nature.
Learned counsel has highlighted three main legal issues.
he submits, that where there is a right there is a remedy. In any event
according to him the Learned Single Judge failed to exercise its jurisdiction
in not addressing the 6 controversy in issue. Learned counsel further submitted
that this Court can entertain an SLP in compelling circumstances even if the
normal remedy of Letters Patent Appeal is not availed by a party. In support of
his submission, Learned Counsel relied on a judgment of this Court in Pawan
Kumar vs. State of Haryana, (2003) 11 SCC 241. We are of the considered opinion
that the aforesaid judgment is of no assistance to the petitioner. In that case
this Court observed as follows:
from the salutary powers exercisable by this Court under Article 142 of the
Constitution for doing complete justice to the parties, the powers under
Article 136 of the Constitution can be exercised by it in favour of a party
even suo motu when the court is satisfied that compelling grounds for its
exercise exist but it should be used very sparingly with caution and
circumspection inasmuch as only the rarest of rare cases. One of such grounds
may be, as it exists like in the present case, where this Court while
considering appeal of one of the accused comes to the conclusion that
conviction of appealing as well as non-appealing accused both was unwarranted.
Upon the aforesaid conclusion arrived at by the Apex Court of the land, further
detention of the non- appealing accused, by virtue of the 7 judgment rendered
by the High Court upholding his conviction, being without any authority of law,
infringes upon the right to personal liberty guaranteed to the citizen as
enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution. In our view, in cases akin to
the present one, where there is wither a flagrant violation of mandatory
provision of any statute or any provision of the Constitution, it is not that
this Court has a discretion to exercise its suo motu power but a duty is
enjoined upon it to exercise the same by setting right the illegality in the
judgment of the High Court as it is well settled that illegality should not be
allowed to be perpetuated and failure by this Court to interfere with the same
would amount to allowing the illegality to be perpetuated. In view o f the
foregoing discussion, we are of the opinion that accused Balwinder Singh alias
Binder is also entitled to be extended the same benefit which we are granting
in favour of the appellant."
In our opinion the aforesaid observations reiterate the
well-settled propositions of law as well as the parameters within which this
court will exercise its power under Article 142 of the Constitution of India to
do complete justice in a particular case. But those are the matters which are
relatable directly to Article 21 and akin to deprivation of life. In other
words issues which would fall within the category of `rarest of 8 rare' cases.
This Court can grant the relief in cases: where manifest injustice has been
done: or where there is manifest illegality or manifest want of jurisdiction.
In the present case we are concerned with a purely commercial venture, where
the film in question "Pazhassi Raja" is vying for fame with another
commercial film called "Mangal Pandey". It is not disputed that the
film "Pazhassi Raja" has already been released on the commercial
sectors. It seeks to depict a view point on the first war of Independence which
may or may not be generally acceptable. We are not called upon to decide on the
issue in these proceedings. In any event the film is a view point of the
individuals or the team involved in the production of the film.
unable to see how Article 21 can be said to have been infringed in the facts
and circumstances of this case. We are also not impressed with the submission
of Mr. Venugopal that without grant of interim relief the petitioner would be
rendered remedy-less. In case it is ultimately found by the Delhi High Court or
in any other proceedings that the Jury, selectors of the films to be screened,
have acted arbitrarily or in infringement of the statutory regulations, remedy
of damages 9 by way of a civil suit would always be available to the
petitioner. The judgment relied upon by Mr. Venugopal in the case of Dhannalal
vs. Kalawatibai and others (2002) 6 SCC 16 reiterates the principle in the
legal maxim Ubi jus ibi remedium which translates that "there is no wrong
without a remedy. Where there is a right there is a forum for its
enforcement." We have no reason to take a different view on this legal
principle . We are however of the opinion that the petitioner has not been
rendered remedy-less merely by denial of interim relief.
We are also not impressed with the submission of Mr. Venugopal
that merely because the petitioner has been vigilant in projecting the
grievance as well as his rights, interim relief ought to follow. The film of
the petitioner has to compete with all other entries. Its entry was dependent
upon the relative merit assessment by the panel of jurors. Its merit cannot be
Mr. Venugopal then submitted that the selection process has been
vitiated as there has been a breach of Regulation 8.2. The regulation is as
"8.2 The Chairperson of the Feature Film Jury may constitute a maximum of
two panels from amongst the members of the jury. Each panel will recommend not
more than 33 % of the films viewed by it for combined viewing by the full
A perusal of the above would show that the Chairperson of the
Feature Film Jury has the power to constitute a maximum two panels, for viewing
all the films and to recommend not more than 33 % of the films to be viewed by
the full Jury. According to Mr. Venugopal one of the Jury members, Mr. Bobby
Bedi was not present for 13 out of a total 15 days that the Juries saw the
movies. This fact was admitted by the respondents in the counter filed by them
before the High Court of Kerala. According to the learned counsel the whole
selection process has been conducted arbitrarily, there has been criticism in
the media with regard to the functioning of the Jury. In our opinion, the
learned Single Judge, considering the same submissions, has correctly observed
that all these issues will be determined at the final hearing, upon receipt of
the counter of the 11 respondents. The Court normally would not substitute its
own opinion for that of the experts. Decision about the quality and merit of
the film of the petitioner can only be taken in comparison to other entries.
That is the job of the experts.
We see no
reason to defer with the view expressed by the learned Single Judge of the
Delhi High Court. It is also held by the Delhi High court that merely because a
person has come to court, would not ipso facto entitle the petitioner to relief
on the very terms on which a prayer is made. In our opinion the aforesaid
observation cannot be said to be as either illegal or erroneous.
Mr. Venugopal, has then submitted that the selection process has
been altered midway. This was in response to the submissions made by the
learned counsel for the Union of India before the High Court. The learned
counsel had also made a reference to the communication dated 15.10.2009
received from Mr. Bobby Bedi which was placed before the Delhi High Court. The
response was to the following effect:
is with reference to my appointment as a member of the above jury.
12 Due to
the change in the final dates for the jury viewings I had to reschedule some of
my travel plans and as a result was unable to attend some of the viewings.
However, I had discussed this with the Directorate and the chairman of the Jury
and my other jury group members and carried a DVD copy of all the films that I
would be missing. I can confirm that all the films in my group have been seen
by me and discussed with my team members Gautaman Bhaskaran and Raja Mitra and
we have come up with a final list of recommendations."
It was also submitted before the High Court by the learned counsel
for the Union of India as follows:
"Mr. A.S. Chandhlok, learned Additional Solicitor General has
pointed out that on viewing the film in question, it was the unanimous decision
of the jury not to include it in the Indian Panorama 2009."
We are unable to discern from the aforesaid any change in the
criteria. We have however refrained from expressing any opinion on the same
since the writ petition filed by the petitioner is pending adjudication before
the High Court.
We may reiterate that the facts and circumstances in the present
case were not such as to permit the petitioner to bypass the normal procedure
of filing, Letters Patent Appeal 13 against the order of the learned Single
Judge before approaching this Court by special leave petition.
In view of the aforesaid we decline to interfere with the order
passed by the learned Single Judge of the Delhi High Court. The special leave
petition is dismissed.