Bombay High Court rejects plea to ban Pakistani artists from working in India

In a significant ruling, the Bombay High Court has rejected a petition that sought a comprehensive ban on the engagement of Pakistani artists, including actors, singers, musicians, lyricists, and technicians, by Indian citizens, companies, and associations.

“The division bench firmly stated that the petition goes against the principles of promoting cultural harmony, unity, and peace, and lacks any merit.”

The petitioner, a member of the film industry, had urged the Information and Broadcasting Ministry, the Ministry of External Affairs, and the Ministry of Home Affairs to issue notifications banning Pakistani artists from working in India and prohibiting the issuance of visas to them.

The petitioner referenced resolutions passed by various industry associations, including the All-Indian Cine Workers Association (AICWA), the Indian Motion Pictures Producers Association (IMPPA), the Federation of Western Indian Cine Employees (FWICE), and the MNS Cinema Wing, which had previously banned Pakistani artists from the Indian film industry. These resolutions were passed in the aftermath of the Pulwama terror attacks.

The petitioner argued that permitting Pakistani artists to work in India could lead to discrimination against Indian artists and claimed that the same opportunities were not provided to Indian artists in Pakistan. According to Krishna, a ban was necessary to safeguard the interests of Indian artists and prevent the potential exploitation of commercial opportunities by Pakistani artists in India.

However, the Bombay High Court found the petitioner’s argument to be misplaced. The court emphasized the importance of fostering cultural harmony and peace between nations and stressed that patriotism should not result in hostility but should encourage unity and cultural exchanges.

The court also noted that the resolutions passed by private associations, while expressing a sentiment, did not have legal authority and could not be enforced through judicial orders. The judges asserted that enforcing such bans would violate the fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g), and 21 of the Constitution.

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