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Plea in SC against release of 'The Accidental Prime Minister'

twitter-logoPTI | January 9, 2019 | Updated 18:52 IST

New Delhi, Jan 9 (PTI) A plea was filed in the Supreme Court Wednesday challenging the January 7 order of the Delhi High Court which had disposed of a petition seeking to ban the trailer of upcoming movie, 'The Accidental Prime Minister'. The high court had disposed of the writ petition against the trailer but left it open for the petitioner to file a public interest litigation (PIL). The filing of appeal in the apex court came hours after a division bench of the high court dismissed the PIL, which had sought a ban on both -- the film and its trailer -- alleging it defamed the constitutional post of the Prime Minister. The film is scheduled to release on January 11. The movie, which stars Anupam Kher as former prime minister Manmohan Singh, is based on a book of the same name by Singh's then media advisor Sanjaya Baru. In the appeal filed in the top court, petitioner Pooja Mahajan has sought stay on exhibition of trailer of the film on YouTube and to suspend the release and exhibition of the movie during pendency of the matter. The plea, filed through advocate A Maitri, has claimed that "at present if the film 'The Accidental Prime Minister' is allowed to be released then it will cause unaccountable damage to the name and fame of the office of Prime Minster of India." It alleged that the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) should not have given certification to the film as actors have performed the "character of public personalities", like Manmohan Singh, Congress president Rahul Gandhi and his mother Sonia Gandhi which constitutes an offence under section 416 (cheating by personation) of the Indian Penal Code. "It is a known fact that film producers have not taken any consent/permission from Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi to perform their characters or to perform their political life or to dress up in the same way as they had been doing in their normal life or to copy their voice in any manner," the plea alleged. It further claimed that it "seems that film makers, 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". The plea also alleged that if the film would be released, friendly relations with USA and other foreign states were likely to be affected. "The release of film is likely to cause unaccountable damage to high profile public personalities i.e. Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi," it claimed, adding, "it seems that film has been produced in a selected manner and it clearly shows that it's a political propaganda with some other motives". It alleged that promo of the film showed that the movie has been produced "simply to damage the image" of Singh. Earlier in the day, a division bench of the high court dismissed the PIL seeking ban on the movie and its trailer saying the petitioner has no locus standi to file the plea and private interest was involved in it. The petitioner had alleged in the high court that provisions of the Cinematograph Act were being misused and the film producer has released the trailer affecting the image of the office of the prime minister and giving a bad name to it at the national and international level. Advocate Sangram Patnaik, appearing for film producers Sunil Bohra and Dhaval Gada, had told the high court that the plea was not maintainable and how could the production house was not made a party in it. The plea has arrayed the Centre, through the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), Google (India) and YouTube as parties. PTI ABA SA

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