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Published in the 16-31 May 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Black Friday to wait till judgement

The Milli Gazette Online

New Delhi: The Supreme Court issued notices to the 1993 Mumbai serial bomb blast accused on April 22 in a case related to the ban on the screening of the movie Black Friday. The film was stalled by a division bench of the Bombay high court on March 31. The court said that the film would not be released till the judgement is delivered by the designated Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act judge in the serial bomb blast case. After several orders extending the stay on the release of the film, the producers approached the Supreme Court.

The contention of the counsels of the producer of the film, Mid-Day Multimedia Ltd is that staying the release of the film is tantamount to curbing the freedom of expression as guaranteed under the Constitution.

The lawyers representing the accused had vociferously made a case as to how the release of the film would prove to be prejudicial to the judgement in the case. Counsel for one of the accused PA Sabastian had read out the portions of the film script and said that they bore a striking similarity to the case made out by the prosecution in the serial bomb blast case. He cited the instance of Mustafa Musa Tarani one of the accused, who had been shown in the film as having planted scooter bombs at Zaveri Bazar and Worli.

Besides, the Mumbai police had also opposed the release of the film on the ground that it portrayed the police in an objectionable manner and that its screening would lead to a law and order problem in the state.

The producers of the film are worried because of the prospects of the film being delayed by the TADA court headed by judge Pramod Kode. They are anxious because of the following facts: the trial in the case began on June 30, 1995 and concluded in July 2003. The judge had himself said in the court on July 3, 2004 that he would pronounce the judgement on July 19, 2004. But the judgement has still not been given. Judgments in these kind of cases take time. For instance, in this case there are a record of over 10,000 pages. During trial, as many as 686 witnesses including two accused-turned-approvers deposed before the court. The case involves 123 accused, of whom 11 are dead. 

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