KARACHI: The Sindh High Court on Tuesday declared the federal government's controversial ban on film Maalik illegal and cleared it to be screened again.

The federal government had put a ban on Maalik which was released on April 8 nationwide, declaring it “uncertified” and making it unfit for screening in the country.

Ashir Azeem, the film's director, had challenged the ban in court saying the ban on Maalik had been imposed by the government without having the authority to do. The authority to establish censor boards was a prerogative of provincial governments following the 18th amendment, he had argued.

"The story and script of the film... is not directed towards the government or the working of the government at large. The film was made with the intention to highlight the political and social issues of Pakistan," he said.

During the hearing of the application, a division bench of the SHC led by Chief Justice Sajjad Ali Shah cleared the film for screening across the country while ruling the ban illegal.

Azeem celebrated the court ruling about his directorial debut on Twitter saying: "We waited patiently [and] we did not release the film illegally. We suffered but kept faith and today we are vindicated."

Ban on Maalik

Maalik had generated complaints regarding its controversial depiction of the Taliban and parallels with the assassination of a prominent government official by his personal security guard.

After three weeks of successful screening in multiplexes, and not before it was given the certificate for public viewing, the Sindh government decided to ban the film on April 26 — only to revoke that notice a few hours later.

A day later, the federal government banned the film nationwide, declaring the Urdu feature film "uncertified" according to Section 9 of the Motion Pictures Ordinance, 1979.

The government did not provide any explanation for banning the film in its notification.

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