The Bombay High Court on Tuesday questioned the State Government regarding the guidelines issued dated May 30, 2020 barring cast/crew members above the age of 65 years from entering TV/Film sets and sought a detailed reply from the State.
Division bench of Justice SJ Kathawalla and Justice RI Chagla were hearing a writ petition filed by Pramod Pandey who contended that he has been performing small roles in films and TV serials since the last 40 years and now due to new guidelines, his livelihood is in danger.
The said guideline on age restrictions for crew/cast was issued by the State for the entertainment industry as part of their Mission Begin Again initiative.
Petitioner does not have any other source of livelihood and is solely dependent on such jobs in the film studios. Although he is physically fit, he is not allowed to go to the studios and participate in any shootings and he is thereby deprived of earning his livelihood. If directions are passed calling for data from the respondents, it will be found that the majority of persons affected by the pandemic are below the age of 65 years, the petition states.
Advocate Ashok Saraogi appeared on behalf of the petitioner and argued that grave hardship and prejudice will be caused to his client if he is prevented from participating in any of the activities during the shootings since he will not be able to survive with dignity and self respect.
Government Pleader Poornima Kantharia informed the Court that the guidelines also provide that when possible, castings should be done remotely via Facetime, Zoom, Skype, etc.
To this, Justice Kathawalla said-
"The learned Advocate for the State had to be reminded that the actors performing small roles are required to go to the studios and request for work to enable them to have their two meals, and no Producer/Director is going to shoot their role via Facetime, Zoom, Skype etc."
Finally, the bench directed the state to file an affidavit explaining how a physically fit person who is 65 years or above is expected to live a dignified life if he is not allowed to go out and earn his livelihood.
Court said the respondents shall in their affidavit also set out the following :
(i) Whether any data/reports/statistics were taken into consideration before issuing the impugned Guidelines restraining any cast/crew members above the age of 65 years from attending the studios/shooting sites;
(ii) Whether a similar rule is made applicable to individuals who are 65 years and above and are travelling by trains/buses/aircrafts etc.;
(iii) Whether a similar rule is made applicable to the employers/staff who are currently attending shops//private offices;
(iv) Whether a similar rule is made applicable to the individuals (approximately 30) who are allowed to attend funerals or marriage reception/s etc.
The next date of hearing in the matter is July 24, 2020
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