Update 3, 5pm: Update 3, 5pm: Pooja Mahajan, the Delhi based designer has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) in the Supreme Court against Delhi High Court’s judgement that dismissed its PIL seeking the suspension of the release of the film The Accidental Prime Minister along with a ban on the trailer. The producers of the film have not been named as a respondent in the matter.

Elaborating on why they excluded the producers and makers of the film as respondents, Arun Maitri, the petitioner’s advocate, told MediaNama, “At present they are not required. Matter is of non-compliance of statutory provisions. Matter is regarding the overall impact of trailer & film on public at large. Read the SLP here.

Update 2, 2pm: The matter was earlier listed to be heard by the bench of Justice S Muralidhar and Justice Sanjeev Narula, but was transferred to the bench headed by Chief Justice Menon this morning.

During the hearing, the producers of the film, represented by Advocate Sangram Patnaik, objected to the petition saying they were not made a party to the PIL and that the Court’s order can affect them adversely.

Talking to MediaNama, the advocate Arun Maitri representing the petitioner said, that they would go to the Supreme Court against the Delhi HC dismissal. Note that earlier on January 7, a single judge bench of the Delhi High Court dismissed the writ petition by Mahajan and asked her to file a PIL, as it was considered a matter of public interest.

Update 1, 9 January 11 am: The Delhi HC has dismissed the case and said, “We are dismissing on your locus, end of matter.”  The bench was headed by Justice Rajendra Menon. The court also said, “If it is an offence under the Cinematograph Act, let the aggrieved party go to police and file a complaint.”

The petitioners will take this case to the Supreme Court, the lawyer told MediaNama.

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8 January: Pooja Mahajan, a Delhi based designer, has filed a fresh PIL in the Delhi High Court seeking a ban on the release of the trailer and the film The Accidental Prime Minister. Mahajan had initially filed a writ petition seeking a ban on the trailer from YouTube and Google and not the film. However, yesterday, the Delhi High Court directed the petitioners to file a PIL in the matter.

The last petition was a normal writ under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. “In (that writ petition) you have to show how the petitioner’s rights are effected,” explains Maitri. In a PIL, you can file the petition “by submitting that public issues are involved and larger public interest is effected,” he added.

  • “We are want the release to be suspended, (because) there are so many issues where the film can be rectified (and) corrected. They can mute the lines which have been copied, can mute the name because there is impersonation upto that level,” said Maitri. He added, that they are seeking suspension of the release for the time-being.
  • The release of the film is challenged on the premise that it violates Section 5B of the Cinematograph Act and the certificate should be “suspended, revoked and challenged”.  According to Section 5B, a film should not be certified if in the opinion of the Censor Board, any part of the film is “against the interest of the security of India, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality…”

The PIL can be read here.

The petition lists the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, Censor Board, Google and YouTube as the respondents in the matter. It says that the Ministry and the Censor board “are well aware of the violation but till date no step have been taken.” It adds:

  • With the release of the film, the makers and producers will succeed in spreading hatred in the masses
  • The authenticity of the information given in the book is also under doubt. Therefore, adapting the same storyline will lead to disgrace and defamation.
  • While the book was read by a particular niche, “who happen to be well read and well educated well off class.” The motion picture will affect the larger population.

For more details on what the petition was seeking, read: The Accidental PM: Delhi HC dismisses ban on trailer, directs petitioners to file PIL