The High Courts of Delhi and Bombay on Monday dismissed separate petitions that sought a stay on the release of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Both the courts refused to interfere with the release of PM Narendra Modi, which is slated for April 5, days before the first phase of the Lok Sabha elections.
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.
The film’s producer, creative director and storywriter Sandip Ssingh said on Monday that the team hoped to release the film on time now. “We are very happy that finally the justice has been given to the film,” he said. “We believe in the system and the law. We are hoping to release the film on time now.”
The Bombay High Court refused to stay the release after noting that the Election Commission had already issued a notice to the movie’s makers, and disposed of the public interest litigation filed by Satish Gaikwad, a member pf the Republican Party of India. Gaikwad’s petition had said the movie violated the Model Code of Conduct in view of the Lok Sabha elections, and said it will give the prime minister electoral mileage if it is released.
“The Election Commission has already taken note of the issue and shall deal with it,” a bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice NM Jamdar said said.
Last week, the Election Commission had issued notice to the makers of PM Narendra Modi and the BJP following the Opposition’s demand that the film’s release be postponed till the Lok Sabha elections are over. In response, the producers of the film – Anand K Pandit, Sandeep Ssingh, Manish Acharya and Suresh Oberoi – had said they have no link with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party and that they had put in their personal money to make the film.
They had also claimed that postponing the film will amount to violation of freedom of speech and expression and “demeans the intellect of the electorate”.
The Delhi High Court had also dismissed the petition citing the reason that the Election Commission and the Bombay High Court were also aware of the matter. “We are not going to interfere with it. You go to the censor board or the Election Commission,” a Division Bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Mohan and Justice Anup Bhambhani said.
The petition in the Delhi High Court, moved by advocate Sujeet Kumar Singh, had said the movie “cannot be said to be totally uninfluenced and independent of the political personality whose name and life the biopic film is based”, according to Bar and Bench. “Small and regional parties will simply not be able to meet these kinds of challenges or commission films that are similarly grand and released simultaneously in so many theatres,” the petition had said. “Thus in one way or the other, this is a violation of the novel principle of equality as per Article 14 & 15 of the Constitution of India.”