A show cause notice has been issued to leading Hindi newspaper Dainik Bhaskar, music company T-Series and film production company Legend Global Studio for allegedly violating the Model Code of Conduct by carrying a front-page advertisement of the upcoming film PM Narendra Modi, Firstpost reported on Friday.

A district election officer of the East Delhi Parliamentary constituency served the show cause notice to the newspaper’s editor, T-Series’ senior official Sachin Chauhan and Sandip Ssingh of Legend Global Studio, one of the producers of the film. The notice, signed by the district returning officer for the East Delhi Lok Sabha seat, said the advertisement appears to be a “surrogate advertisement” which may have “political overtures” that violate the code of conduct.

The advertisement in Dainik Bhaskar on March 20 covered more than half the page and showed the film’s poster. It also announced that the trailer will be launched later in the day. The trailer was uploaded by T-Series on YouTube.

The front-page advertisement of 'PM Narendra Modi' film on March 20 in Dainik Bhaskar.
The front-page advertisement of 'PM Narendra Modi' film on March 20 in Dainik Bhaskar.

PM Narendra Modi, a biopic about the prime minister, will be released on April 5, a week before the elections begin on April 11. The Model Code of Conduct has been in effect since March 10.

The film features Vivek Oberoi as the prime minister through various stages of his life – including his early years with the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh and his long stint as chief minister of Gujarat – leading up to his party’s victory in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.

Citing the relevant provisions of the code of conduct as per the Election Commission of India, the letter said the parties concerned should reveal the expenses of printing such an advertisement, and that the expense be added to the cost of campaign of the candidate. The officer asked the newspaper, the production company and T-Series to submit documents of certification obtained from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee of the Election Commission for the advertisement before 4 pm on March 25.

DMK, NCP approach election authorities

The Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has approached the Election Commission seeking a ban on the biopic until the elections are completed, reports said. The film will impact the outcome of the elections as it shows Modi’s political lifestyle, PS Arasu Bupathi of the DMK’s engineering wing said.

The Nationalist Congress Party’s cultural wing also raised an objection with election authorities in Maharashtra. On March 15, the Goa unit of National Students’ Union of India had also urged the Election Commission to ban the film’s screening in theatres during the 48-hour silence period before a voting day.