Patan High Court, on Thursday, issued an interim order which allowed the screening of all films approved by the Censor Board, including Indian films, in film halls across Kathmandu.

A single bench of Justice Dhir Bahadur Chand, on Thursday, during the hearing of a petition filed by the Nepal Motion Picture Association took the decision to this effect.

Lawyer Jailal Bhandari, representing the film association, stated that both parties have been summoned by the court on June 27 to discuss the interim order.

Kathmandu Metropolitan City had imposed a ban on Indian films since Monday, citing the inclusion of a controversial dialogue in the Indian film “Adipurush” where Janaki is identified as an ‘Indian daughter’.

In response, the film association challenged the mayor’s decision in court.

However, KMC Mayor Balendra (Balen) Shah has publicly declared his refusal to abide by the High Court’s order.

Shortly after the court’s ruling, Mayor Shah took to Facebook to express his intent to continue preventing the screening of Indian films, even if it means facing consequences. Furthermore, he accused both the court and the Government of Nepal of being subservient to India.

In a Facebook post, Balen wrote, “When it comes to the sovereignty and independence of the country, I am not going to obey any law or court.”

He interpreted the inclusion of the dialogue as an indication that Nepal was under the rule of India and argued that by allowing Indian movies to run, the court and the government were endorsing Nepal’s subjugation to India.

Mayo Shah Balen expressed readiness to endure any punishment for his stance, emphasizing that the film would not be screened or permitted to be screened.

Meanwhile, Advocate Ashankan Malla, who is representing the Nepal Motion Picture Association, said the current issue is not about a single film, but rather an entire industry.

“To ban Hindi language cinemas entirely on the basis of one film’s mistake is not justifiable. Furthermore, cinema hall owners, who have already suffered during the COVID-19 crisis, could face bankruptcy because Hindi cinemas account for 45% of ticket sales in cinema halls.”

Advocate Malla also raised questions on KMC Mayor’s authority to take such unjustifiable actions, stating decisions to ban cinemas lies on the Censor Board, and if taken further by the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology. He added the mayor’s decision infringes on the constitutionally guaranteed rights for business owners to operate their businesses.

Meanwhile, reaching out to the Nepal Motion Picture Association, Prajwal SJB Rana has said they are awaiting the final word on the issue, and discussing how to proceed. “The issue from our side is the jurisdiction of any governmental body, and if a publicly elected official can make decisions without thinking about its consequences on other stakeholders,” Rana said.