'File A PIL', Delhi HC Rejects Plea Against The Trailer Of "The Accidental Prime Minister"

File A PIL, Delhi HC Rejects Plea Against The Trailer Of The Accidental Prime Minister

The Delhi High Court on Monday refused to entertain a plea seeking to suspend the trailer of the upcoming movie "The Accidental Prime Minister" and asked the petitioner to file it as a public interest litigation.

Justice Vibhu Bakhru disposed of the plea which was filed by the petitioner in her personal capacity.

The judge made it clear that she has not examined the controversy raised in the plea.

The plea alleged that provisions of the Cinematograph Act are being misused and the film producer has released the trailer affecting, harming the image of the office of the prime minister and giving a bad name at the national and international level.

The film, which stars Anupam Kher as Manmohan Singh, is based on a book of the same name by the former prime minister's media advisor Sanjaya Baru.

The court noted the submission of the counsel for the Centre and the Censor Board that petitioner Pooja Mahajan stated in the first paragraph of her petition that she has no personal interest in the issue.

"The counsel for respondents state that the petition is in the nature of public interest and it be filed as a PIL," the court said.

It said it would be open for the petitioner to file a PIL.

The court also said a PIL is heard by a division bench and not by a single judge.

The petition, filed by Delhi-based designer Pooja Mahajan, alleges that the trailer violates Section 5-B of Cinematography Act and Rule 38 of Cinematograph (Certification) Rules, 1983, which it says allow only the title of the movie to be displayed.

It also contends that even though the movie claims to have been based on the same-titled book authorised by Sanjaya Baru, the trailer is not in fact based on the book. It bases this claim on the use of words such as "the elections season", "nuclear deal", "Kashmir issue", etc. in the trailer. This, it says, shows that the trailer is "motivated".

The trailer, it asserts, defames former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who enjoys national and international repute, and is causing "unaccountable damage" to the name and fame of the office of the Prime Minister of India.

The petition further alleges that the actors in the movie have committed the offence of cheating by impersonation under Section 416 of the Indian Penal Code. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), it therefore submits, could not have granted a certificate for screening and exhibition of the movie.

"…besides that, the film producers had no authority to violate the mandate of Constitution of India which provides respect towards the Constitutional functionaries. It seems that filmmakers, producers have made an attempt to make commercial gains and the act of "impersonation" have been committed deliberately to defame the office of Prime Minister just to hype the excitement amongst the prospective viewers," it submits.

Besides, it also contends that the trailer of the movie is spoiling India's relations with foreign states and is ultimately affecting the sovereignty and integrity of India. Highlighting CBFC's responsibility in such a scenario, it submits,

"Respondent No. 4 /CBFC is under statutory obligation under Cinematograph Act 1952 and Rules to judge the entire Trailer in its entirety from the viewpoint of its overall impact and should have examined in the light of country's sovereignty and integrity , country's image before entire world, as regarding unaccountable damage to the office of Prime Minister."

Additionally, it points out that the trailer violates Youtube's policy against impersonation as well, and submits that the movie makers should've taken a No Objection Certificate (NOC) from Dr. Manmohan Singh and Ms. Sonia Gandhi before showcasing it.

With PTI Inputs