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Trial of Batla House case casts shadow on release of film on it

twitter-logoPTI | August 8, 2019 | Updated 20:32 IST

(Eds: Adding additional details from hearing) New Delhi, Aug 8 (PTI) The Delhi High Court Thursday said if the film "Batla House" has a "propensity" to affect the ongoing proceedings in the Batla House encounter and the 2008 serial blasts cases, the release of the movie would be put on hold. Justice Vibhu Bakhru said the movie is not a work of fiction, but purports to be a film based on the police files on the two cases and therefore, the filmmakers cannot say it was not based on the encounter. The court's observation came during the hearing of a plea by accused Ariz Khan in the Batla House encounter case, seeking postponement of the release of the film, starring John Abraham, on the ground that it would affect his trial. The postponement of the film's release has also been sought by Shahzad Ahmed who has been sentenced to life imprisonment in the Batla House case and has challenged the verdict in the high court. Both Khan and Ahmad are also facing trial in the 2008 Delhi serial bomb blast case. The producers of the movie, however, claimed it is an "unsubstantiated apprehension" of the petitioners that they figure as characters in the film, slated to hit theatres on August 15. The court did not appear to agree with the contention, saying the film characters do purport to the accused in the two cases. It asked the petitioners to give a detailed note on exact sequences in the film where they and other accused in the two cases have figured as film's characters. The court said the petitioners contentions initially were based on the movie's trailer and its posters, but as their lawyers have seen the film now, they can articulate their claim better on how the presumption of innocence in their favour has been hit by the movie. During the hearing, the petitioners counsel told the court that the film debunks the defence taken by the accused in the two cases, making a mockery out of them and portraying them as 'mujahideens' or terrorists. He said the film shows a bomb being made at the Batla House flat and there are repeated references that various blasts in the country were carried out by the accused in the encounter case. The petitioners' counsel also accused the movie of being "Islamophobic" and added it would have an effect on the judge conducting the trial. The petition claims the film, slated to be released on August 15, shows a link between the bomb blasts and the encounter and would therefore, prejudicially affect the trial in both cases. It has also alleged that the film's posters and trailers depicted petitioners as terrorists and guilty of the crimes they have been accused of, even before the trial court has pronounced its verdict in the blasts case and the encounter case against Khan. The encounter took place on September 19, 2008, when a team of the Delhi Police Special Cell raided a flat in Batla House in south Delhi's Jamia Nagar on a tip-off that the alleged terrorists involved in the September 13, 2008 serial blasts in the national capital were holed up there. During the raid, a decorated police officer -- Inspector M C Sharma -- was killed. PTI HMP SKV HMP RAX RAX

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