SC Refuses Urgent Listing For Petition Challenging AP HC's Stay On Release Of Political Film 'Lakshmi's NTR' Close To Elections

SC Refuses Urgent Listing For Petition Challenging AP HCA still from film 'Lakshmi's NTR'

The Supreme Court today declined request for urgent listing of a Special Leave Petition filed against the order of High Court of Andhra Pradesh staying the release and exhibition of Telugu film 'Lakshmi's NTR'.

The biopic directed by Ram Gopal Verma is based on the life of former Chief Minister of undivided Andhra Pradesh, N. T. Rama Rao as narrated from the perspective of his second wife, Lakshmi Parvati. It was slated for release on March 29.

The release of the film close to Lok Sabha elections was objected to by Telugu Desam Party(TDP), and its members filed a PIL in the AP High Court seeking its stay. They contended that the film was highly derogatory towards TDP. They submitted that its director Ram Gopal Verma had released its teaser in his personal twitter handle, seeking opinions from people regarding whether the film will affect the election verdict. According to the petitioners, the film was a calculated move to manipulate election results and called for the intervention of Election Commission of India to ensure free and fair elections.

On March 28, the division bench of Justices A V Sesha Sai and U Durga Prasad Rao found prima facie merit in the arguments of petitioners that screening of the film at a crucial stage before the elections will affect the prospects of one political party, and held that it was necessary for the court to view the film for a "better appreciation of the contents".

Therefore, the Court directed the producer to make arrangements for the screening of the film at 4PM on April 3, and stayed its release until then.

Challenging this order, the producer of the film Rakesh Reddy approached the Supreme Court, contending that "Hon'ble High Court has exceeded its jurisdiction in passing the Impugned Order, as the Hon'ble Judges are not supposed to hold movie screenings and decide whether they ought to be released or not". The SLP states that the film was produced by private parties without any political patronage, and points out that it has clearance from the Central Board of Film Certification.

Though the counsel for the film producer made an oral mention before the bench of CJI for urgent listing of the petition, it was declined.

(Image courtesy : India Today)

Read the order of AP HC