The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Pune-based Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) to allow candidates suffering from colour blindness to pursue all courses on filmmaking and editing, saying there was a need to adopt a more inclusive and progressive approach to the matter. A bench of Justices S K Kaul and M M Sundresh said FTII being a premier institute, one would expect it to encourage liberal thought process and not put courses connected with films in any ”conformist box”.
It said no discrimination be made based on colour blindness for getting admission in the institute as it is not a form of blindness but a deficiency. The apex court said other such institutes guided by a similar curriculum are required to adhere to the discussion on this subject which forms the conclusion of the Committee.
The top court said that filmmaking and editing are a form of art and the institute should adopt a more inclusive and progressive approach to the matter. The order came on an appeal filed by Patna resident Ashutosh Kumar challenging the order of the Bombay High Court which rejected his plea seeking admission to a three-year post-graduate diploma course in film editing at FTII. The top court passed the order after taking into account the majority view of a seven-member committee, which was appointed by it to examine the issue. ”The conclusion shows a clear recommendation that all individuals will be allowed for all courses at FTII.
Any limitation can be overcome. FTII should make accommodation in its curriculum for candidates with colour blindness and the colour grading module in existing diploma and film editing course curriculum should be excluded or made elective,” the bench said.
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The committee comprised film director Ravi K Chandran, colourist Swapnil Patole, script supervisor Shubha Ramachandra, Film Editor Akkineni Sreekar Prasad, course creator Rajasekharan, ophthalmologist Jignesh Taswala and advocate Shoeb Alam. While commending the efforts and the report of the committee the bench remarked that “It is much easier to change laws than to change mindsets. It takes a long time to change the mindset and therefore the judiciary has to sometimes give impetus to change the mindset”.
The top court said that ”there are vested interests which arise. Change is the most difficult thing and therefore some push is required.” It said in such cases where reasonable accommodation is sought, ”hearts can rule over the mind.” Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves appeared for the petitioner.
Advocate Amit Anand Tiwari, appearing for FTII, submitted that the institute has an inclusive approach in its curriculum.
The top court noted that as per the committee that individuals with colour blindness should be able to enroll in all courses at FTII.
”Reasons being film and TV creations are collaborating art forms. Restricting may stifle creative talent and the development of art. Any limitation can be overcome by help. Not for FTII to determine candidates’ future occupational prospects. Job of an editor, not mechanical, must creatively work with the story, dialogue, music, and performances and even rewrite the film,” the bench said.
The apex court noted that the view of the committee was that ”restricting the entry of colorblind candidates to film courses may sacrifice creative talent and stultify the development of the art”. ”It is the view of the committee that individuals with colour blindness should be able to enroll for all courses at FTII. Reasons being film and TV creations are collaborating art forms. Restricting may stifle creative talent and the development of art. Any limitation can be overcome by help. It is not for FTII to determine candidates’ future occupational prospects. Job of an editor is not mechanical, must creatively work with the story, dialogue, music, and performances and even rewrite the film. It is opined that there is no relevance of colouring course, as an expert can make up for the shortfall,” the committee said in its report.
The Court noted that as per the committee, there is no relevance of colour grading to the role of a professional film editor.
Kumar was also short-listed for the course but his candidature was rejected after he was found to be colour blind during the medical examination.
The authorities cited FTII rules which state that colour blind candidates are not fit for admission in a few courses, including film editing. Kumar had moved the high court in 2016 against rejection of admission but failed to get a reprieve.
The high court had noted that the FTII has set up an admission committee of experts from various fields to review the admission criteria and carved out six out of 12 courses at FTII in which colour blind candidates are not found suitable.