indian cinema heritage foundation

Court (2014)

  • Release Date17/04/2015
  • GenreSocial
  • FormatColour
  • LanguageMarathi
  • Run Time116 min
  • GaugeDigital
  • Censor RatingUA
  • Censor Certificate NumberDIL/02/231/2014 - Mumbai
  • Certificate Date10/10/2014

Court examines the Indian legal system through the trial of an aging folk singer in a lower court in Mumbai. Narayan Kamble -- a teacher, social activist and protest singer -- is arrested on the charge of abetting the suicide of a sewage worker Vasudev Pawar, who allegedly committed suicide after being influenced by one of Kamble's protest songs. Lawyer Vinay Vora defends Kamble. In the course of the trial, Kamble admits that he sang several songs about suicide, but cannot remember if he did so on the day of the suicide. He also denies any intention to provoke anyone to harm themselves. A witness testifies, however, that he saw the manhole worker in question singing Kamble’s song.

In the next hearing of the case, the investigating officer links Kamble to an incarcerated man, Ashwin Bhagat, through a letter, accusing them of planning illegal activity in the city. Vora explains to the court that Bhagat was requesting Kamble to take care of his ailing mother while he was in jail. Nutan, the public prosecutor, informs the court that Kamble possessed two banned books. Vora explains that one of the books is on Yoga while the other is a critique of certain rituals of the Goyamari sect. Vora is later beaten by some Goyamaris.

Pawar's widow tells the court that her husband would manually clean manholes without any safety equipment and had even lost one eye from exposure to poisonous sewer gases. She adds that he was also an alcoholic but never spoke of committing suicide. She denies having heard Kamble's name ever before. Vora reads the autopsy report which indicates Pawar died as a result of respiratory failure due to inhalation of hydrogen sulphide, with no sign of self-harm. He also reveals that the witness who testified against Kamble is a stock witness who has been testifying in several other cases.

Considering Kamble's deteriorating health and the lack of evidence, Kamble is granted bail for an amount of ₹1,00,00, which Vora pays on his behalf. As soon as he is released, Kamble is again arrested on charges of conducting seditious camps under the cover of folk-artist workshops, and is remanded to police custody. Kamble claims that the charges as well as the evidence against him are fabricated. Vora pleads with the authorities to reconsider the arrest as it will pose severe risk to Kamble’s health. The judge fobs him off and tells him to appeal to the High Court. Later, the judge is shown enjoying a holiday with his family.