KARACHI: SHC issues notices to culture ministry: Ban on Indian films
KARACHI, February 01 2006: The Sindh High Court issued notices to the federal culture ministry and the film censor board in a petition questioning the continued ban on import and exhibition of Indian films for Feb 23.
The petitioner, Pakistan Film Exhibitors Association, submitted that the ban should be declared illegal and unconstitutional and its members be allowed to import Indian films through proper channels and exhibit them in their cinemas.
A division bench, comprising Justices Anwar Zaheer Jamali and Mohammad Athar Saeed, issued notices to the respondents after briefly hearing Advocate Ejaz Ahmed of Mandviwalla and Zafar law firm.
The petitioner said the ban was imposed in 1961 for five years after a study conducted by the federal industries ministry to ‘identify the problems facing the (Pakistani) film industry’ and suggest remedial measures. The fact-finding body appointed by the ministry came up with a proposal for a five-year ban on Indian films to be reviewed after the prescribed period as per its effects. The petitioner said the ban was never reviewed and had been thoughtlessly extended with devastating effect on film industry.
Except for the outdated report, there is no sanction behind the ban. The relevant entry banning the import of Indian films reads: ‘Cinematograph film wholly or partly exposed or developed in any Pakistani or Indian language, with or without a sound track and depicting Pakistani or Indian way of living either silent or dubbed, or in which leading roles have been played by Pakistani or Indian actors or actresses’. Thus, the ban covers ‘Pakistani’ films produced abroad.
The exhibitors also referred to the permission granted for screening Mughal-i-Azam. Twenty-one Indian films were screened at a festival held recently and addressed, among others, by President Musharraf.
The ban, the petitioner said, was imposed to protect the country’s film industry but has instead ruined it by banishing away trade competition.