The Madras High Court on Wednesday stated that no action can be taken against Kollywood director AR Murugadoss based on an FIR registered by the Chennai Central Crime branch, regarding a complaint about his film Sarkar. Justice Anand who gave this order further pointed out that in a democracy, people were allowed to comment on the government's schemes.
An FIR was registered against the filmmaker on Monday, based on a November 8 complaint by a man named Devarajan, who claimed that Murugadoss's film Sarkar instigates violence. He was particularly critical of scenes in the film where the public were shown destroying freebies given by the government.
The director was booked under Sections 153A (Promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony), 505 (1) (b) (Whoever makes, publishes or circulates any statement, rumour or report with intent to cause, or which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public, or to any section of the public whereby any person may be induced to commit an offence against the State or against the public tranquility) and 505 (1) (c) (with intent to incite, or which is likely to incite, any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community, shall be punished with imprisonment which may extend to three years, or with fine, or with both).
On November 9, the Madras High Court passed an interim order not to arrest Murugadoss until November 27. His film, which was critical of political parties in the state, had rankled the ruling dispensation. Murugadoss had sought anticipatory bail fearing arrest by the Chennai police and the court had said then that that he cannot be arrested.
The Madras High Court however made it clear that Murugadoss was within his rights to critcise the film and further pointed out that the film had already been cleared by the censor board.
The court also questioned Murugadoss' counsel as to why a lunch motion had been moved and the case considered an emergency when the court had already stated that the director cannot be arrested.
The state government meanwhile sought more time from the court as it wanted to produce a senior criminal lawyer to represent its case.
The Tamil Nadu government had earlier sought an undertaking from the director stating that he would not criticise the policies of the government in his films again. In response, Murugadoss’s plea in court had stated that he had the right to address and highlight social views in films as guaranteed by the Constitution under Article 19(1)(a). The plea also stated that he is also allowed the promotion of "advocacy or ideas as well discussion of one's own ideas."
Sarkar has actor Vijay in the lead role, with Keerthy Suresh as the heroine. Varalaxmi Sarathkumar plays a negative role in the film. After objections were raised on her name in the film – Komalavalli, which is believed to be late TN CM Jayalalithaa's birth name – and certain dialogues, the filmmakers agreed to remove the controversial portions from the film.