New Delhi: The Delhi high court dismissed a PIL on Wednesday seeking a ban on The Accidental Prime Minister and its trailer on allegations that it defamed the constitutional post of the prime minister.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V.K. Rao said the petitioner has no locus standi to file the plea and private interest was involved in it.
Petitioner Pooja Mahajan alleged that provisions of the Cinematograph Act are being misused and the film producer has released the trailer affecting the image of the office of the prime minister and giving a bad name to it at the national and international level.
The film is scheduled to release on January 11.
Initially, the matter was listed for hearing before a bench of Justices S. Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula in the cause list uploaded on Tuesday, however, it was changed this morning and was heard by the bench headed by the Chief Justice.
During the hearing, the producers of the film said they were not made a party in the PIL and the court should not pass any order without hearing them.
Advocate Sangram Patnaik, appearing for film producers Sunil Bohra and Dhaval Gada, objected to the petition saying it was not maintainable and how could the production house was not made a party.
He said if the adverse order is passed, it would be the producers who would be affected as it is their money which is at stake.
A single judge had earlier refused to entertain the plea asking the petitioner to file it as a public interest litigation.
The film, which stars Anupam Kher as former prime minister Manmohan Singh, is based on a book of the same name by Singh’s media advisor Sanjaya Baru.
The court noted the submission of the counsel for the Centre and the Censor Board that the petitioner had stated in the first paragraph of her petition that she had no personal interest in the issue.
The plea, filed through advocate A. Maitri, alleges that the released trailer of the film defames the constitutional post of the prime minister.
It has arrayed the Centre, through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Google (India) and YouTube as parties.
According to the petition, due to the release of the trailer, the “post of prime minister is getting defamed on day to day basis in the public domain before the public at large”.
It added that the disclaimer in the movie’s trailer says it is based on a book written by Sanjaya Baru but the “real facts are totally different. In fact, the disclaimer given in the trailer is untrue, false and fake”.
“By performing the character of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, the performing actors/ artists have committed offences punishable under sections 416 (cheating by impersonation) of the IPC and therefore, the CBFC could not have given the certificate for screening/ exhibition of the film,” it claimed.
On January 7, the high court had turned down another plea seeking a ban on the film’s trailer.
When the trailer of the film was first released, the Youth Congress in Maharashtra had raised objections and said it wanted ‘veto power’ over the films contents. However, the Congress leadership later seems to have decided that the film was best ignored. In a tweet, Maharashtra Youth Congress chief Satyajeet Tambe Patil said he had withdrawn his demand for a special screening since “it is now evident that [the movie] is BJP’s propaganda/campaign movie”.
(With PTI inputs)