Report No. 248
27. Dramatic Performances Act, Act 19 of 1876
Category: Criminal Justice
Recommendation: Consider for repeal
The Act empowers the State Government to prohibit performances that are scandalous, defamatory or likely to excite feelings of disaffection. Disobeying such prohibitions attracts penalties. It was enacted during the colonial era and extensively used to curb nationalist sentiments propagated through dramatic performances. It has no place in a modern democratic society. States like Delhi and West Bengal have repealed it.
In 2013, the Madras High Court in N. V. Sankaran alias Gnani v. The State Of Tamil Nadu [2013 (1) CTC 686] held that Sections 2(1), 3, 4, 6 and 7 of the Tamil Nadu Dramatic Performance Act, 1954 and Rule 4 of the Tamil Nadu Dramatic Performances Rules, 1955 violate Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution. These provisions are substantially similar to the central legislation, which should be considered for repeal on these grounds.