Eleven defence officers – serving and retired – and eight others on Wednesday sent a legal notice to actors Akshay Kumar and Twinkle Khanna for planning to auction a naval costume that Kumar wore in the 2016 Bollywood film Rustom, PTI reported. The notice has also been sent to the auction house, SaltScout, and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.
The group has accused the Bollywood couple of “playing with the sentiments” of the armed forces and said that it was offended that the actors had listed the costume as an “original naval uniform”. “Uniforms resembling those of the armed forces pose a potential threat to national security as the said uniform, insignia and badges could pass for genuine service clothing and can find their way to anti-national elements who can use it to foment trouble,” the notice said, according to PTI.
The legal notice has asked the actors to cancel the auction or else face action under relevant provisions of the Indian Penal Code. It also urged the defence minister to take action against the actors and stop the auction.
On April 26, Kumar announced his plan to auction the costume on Twitter, claiming that the proceeds from the auction would support the cause of animal welfare and rescue. His wife Twinkle Khanna too tweeted in support of the cause.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the highest bid offered for the uniform – which includes a shirt, pants and a hat – was Rs 2.35 lakh. The auction closes on May 26 night.
Soon after their tweets, Lieutenant Colonel Sandeep Ahlawat called out the actors on Facebook, saying that what Kumar wore in the film was “a piece of costume and not uniform.” Ahlawat, one of the officers who sent the legal notice, wrote that those in the armed forces were “touchy” when it came to “the wrongful representation of military uniform and regalia”.
Smita Dikshit, the lawyer who sent the notice, told ANI that Kumar and Khanna have seven days to reply to the notice.
Last week, Kumar said that he and Khanna had only good intentions with the auction. “That was a costume that I used in the film. It is going for a good cause. I do not think we have done anything wrong,” Kumar had said.