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Gangubai Kathiawadi: Mumbai Court Issues Summons To Authors Of Mafia Queens Of Mumbai, Bhansali Productions, Alia Bhatt On Defamation Complaint

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
25 March 2021 10:39 AM GMT
Gangubai Kathiawadi: Mumbai Court Issues Summons To Authors Of Mafia Queens Of Mumbai, Bhansali Productions, Alia Bhatt On Defamation Complaint
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Last week, a court in Mumbai issued summons to the authors of Mafia Queens of Mumbai, producers of film Gangubai Kathiawadi, and actor Alia Bhatt in respect of a criminal defamation complaint filed against the three by a person purporting to be a son of Gangabhai. Mazgaon Metropolitan Magistrate Shital Bangad after watching the promotional video that was shown to her, observed that...

Last week, a court in Mumbai issued summons to the authors of Mafia Queens of Mumbai, producers of film Gangubai Kathiawadi, and actor Alia Bhatt in respect of a criminal defamation complaint filed against the three by a person purporting to be a son of Gangabhai.

Mazgaon Metropolitan Magistrate Shital Bangad after watching the promotional video that was shown to her, observed that the film was going to be based entirely on the book The Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

Speaking about how Gangubhai's character was portrayed in the book and the film, the Magistrate remarked

"Even if it is considered that, she was prostitute, that does not mean that anybody has permission or write to show or mention her as a prostitute in public."

The book, written by S Hussain Zaidi and Jane Borges devotes a chapter to the late Gangubai Kathiawadi, a social activist who advocated for the rights of sex workers. Sanjay Leela Bhansali's Bhansali Productions is presently making a feature film named Gangubai Kathiawadi, based on the novel.

The proceedings commenced after one Babuji Shah who claimed to be Gangubhai Kathiawadi's adopted son asserted that the chapter relating to Kathiawadi in the novel was defamatory, tarnished her reputation and infringed upon his deceased mother's right to privacy and self-respect.

In Court, Shah stated that the promotional videos used Kathiawadi's name and made reference to the residential area in which she enjoyed a good reputation, in addition to being well-known.

Following the release of promotional content for the film, Shah approached court claiming to be aggrieved that his "mother" was portrayed as a prostitute, brothel keeper and mafia queen in the film and the book. Specifically, he raised objection to the fact that Kathiawadi was shown to be smoking a bidi in the promo.

Additionally, in Court Shah contended that after the release of the promotional video, people in his vicinity started passing inappropriate comments about him and his family members, even stating that female members were being harassed on account of their association with Kathiawadi.

In this light, the Court held

"all accused have acted in common intention to portrayed the image of Gangubai Kathiawadi which has affected the reputation of deceased Gangubai in the area where she is living. Now it's effect are seen on the family of complainant."

Pointing out that Shah's consent was not obtained prior to the publication of the novel or release of the film's promo, the Court again proceeded to say,

"To portray the image of deceased Gangubai without consent of family members amount to defaming her image,"

The mental agony the family had undergone was demonstrable from the complaint Shah had filed ar another police station in December 2020, the Court reasoned.

It was held that in the context of the allegations and the grounds raised by Shah, the release of the promo of the film can be considered prima facie defamatory.

Even though the book released in 2017, the cause and effect of the act of defamation ensued only after the promo was released, considering the large scale viewership of TV channels, films, OTT platforms and other social media mediums which could lead to the defamation to the family, the Court opined.

Holding that there was an allegation of defamation prima facie, and sufficient grounds to proceed against the accused under Sections 500, 501 and 502 of the Indian Penal Code, the Court issued process returnable on May 25, 2021.

Click here for the Order


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