LAHORE: Justice Muzamil Akhtar Shabbir of the Lahore High Court on Tuesday overruled registrar office’s objection to a petition against the exhibition of film Joyland, directing it to fix the hearing of the plea before any appropriate bench.

The registrar’s office had questioned the maintainability of the petition for directly approaching high court without availing first remedy available in the law.

However, Justice Shabbir took up the petition as an “objection case” and overruled the objection.

Mian Bilal, a resident of Lahore, filed the petition through his counsel Abid Hussain Khichi, pleading the film contained `objectionable` material that did not conform to the social values and moral standards of the country.

He alleges the film’s theme and story is based on love and relationship between a man and a transperson, having sexual and physical contact. He submits that in film language, it is said that the art based upon expressions or words always speaks to the audience, and as the movie is showing physical relationship between a male and a transperson, therefore, in view of the saying the art played through the movie must have “shocking effects” on society.

The petitioner contends that the Constitution provides for freedom of speech and expression, but the same is subject to reasonable restrictions.

He argues that the public interest or collective community interest is a bucket of various public interests, including public morality, public order, national security, besides fundamental rights of others.

He alleges that the movie is beyond the law, restrictions and not only against the public interest, but also tantamount to encourage men of the country to tilt towards having relations with transpersons, which could lead society to acting in a way that is repugnant to the injunctions of Islam.

The petitioner asks the court to ban the screening of the movie and order the government to cancel its censorship certificate/licence.

Published in Dawn, November 23rd, 2022

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