Tuesday, 24 May, 2022
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Bihar lawyer behind FIR against 49 celebrities for Modi letter had targeted Bachchan, Lalu

Serial litigant Sudhir Kumar Ojha, 50, has attempted to drag multiple celebrities to court over issues as diverse as Bollywood kissing scenes & junk food ads.

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Patna: Historian Ramachandra Guha, actor Konkona Sen Sharma, and directors Aparna Sen and Shyam Benegal were among 49 celebrities booked last month for writing an open letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to flag rising intolerance in India.

Behind this FIR against the celebrities is a Muzaffarpur-based lawyer and serial litigant who has attempted to drag multiple celebrities to court over issues as diverse as Bollywood smooching scenes and ads for “hazardous” junk food.

Sudhir Kumar Ojha, 50, claims to have filed 745 PILs since he started practising law in 1996. Of these, by his own account, 130 cases have been dismissed by courts.

Speaking to ThePrint Friday, as his petition against the 49 celebrities went viral, Ojha defended the move.

“I do not have any objections to them writing a letter to the PM. But by getting it published in the media, they deliberately tried to tarnish the image of the PM and the country,” said Ojha.

“The proof is that 62 other artistes wrote a letter, accusing them of trying to tarnish the image of the country,” he added.

The 49 celebrities were booked Wednesday. Ojha had moved a local court against them on 27 July, with the court ordering a case against the defendants on 18 September.

News agency PTI quoted police as saying that they had booked the 49 public figures under IPC sections relating to sedition, public nuisance, hurting religious feelings and insulting with intent to provoke breach of peace.

No one’s safe

Ojha’s litany of PILs have targeted public figures of varying fame and kinds. From Hrithik Roshan and Abhishek Bachchan to Amitabh Bachchan, RJD chief Lalu Prasad, and even former prime minister Manmohan Singh.

In 2007, he filed a PIL against the makers and actors of Dhoom 2, accusing them of promoting obscenity by filming a kissing scene. According to Ojha, the case was dropped after the lawyers of the film-makers and actors declared they would not keep kissing scenes in future films.

The same year, he filed a case against Lalu Prasad for allegedly getting his helicopter to land on NH-28 “to attend the call of nature”. The case was dismissed and Ojha is currently pursuing it in the Patna High Court. The impact, however, is already there for all to see, he added.

“Since then, no politician has dared to get his chopper on the NH again,” he claimed.

Also read: FIR against Ramachandra Guha, Mani Ratnam, Aparna Sen & others for their open letter to PM

In 2006, Ojha sought action against Maharashtra Navnirman Sena chief Raj Thackeray for describing the Chhath festival as “drama”, claiming that he had hurt the religious sentiments of Biharis. According to Ojha, a warrant was issued against Thackeray and the MNS chief had to get a bail from the Supreme Court. The case is still on in the Delhi High Court, he said.

Another case was filed when former PM Manmohan Singh and former West Bengal chief minister Buddhadeb Bhattacharjee allegedly said the Ram setu between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka was a natural structure and not man-made.

The case against them was dismissed because, Ojha said, he hadn’t sought permission from the president and the governor, as is required for cases against leaders serving as the prime minister and chief ministers, respectively.

In 2013, Ojha’s PIL against Amitabh Bachchan for promoting the consumption of instant noodles Maggi, which he described as “hazardous to health”, was dismissed by the court.

There are many who question how Ojha’s petitions are admitted in court and dub him a publicity seeker, but the lawyer is quite sure of himself. “I use the judiciary as a tool to bring relief to people,” he said.

Also read: We can’t talk about Gandhi if we don’t speak up on Kashmir and lynchings

As reported earlier, in an open letter to the PM dated 23 July, 49 personalities, including film-makers Mani Ratnam, Anurag Kashyap, Shyam Benegal and Aparna Sen as well as vocalist Shubha Mudgal and historian Ramchandra Guha, expressed concern at the number of “religious identity-based hate crimes” and noted that Jai Shri Ram had become a provocative war cry with many lynchings taking place in its name.

Their statement was challenged by 61 public figures, including lyricist Prasoon Joshi and actor Kangana Ranaut, who raised questions on the silence of the letter-writers “when tribals and the marginalised have become victims of Naxal terror”.

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  1. Bihar is a curse to India and does not contribute to any kind of economic growth. The worst performing state in health index, literacy index, poverty index but high performing in population. Such states do not deserve and help from the central government as it wastes a lot of taxpayers money.

  2. These celebrities wearing leftist and liberal hats are biased and partisan in their espousal of causes. There is no harm in writing to PM but why release letter to the media? Obviously, the intention is to play to the gallery in the guise of social activism. The matter is now up in the court; let the law decide who is right and who is wrong.

    • If they haven’t released, how will people know. Then why is prime minister’s Pro sending Gandhi Jayanti wishes to every mobile in this country. He can just keep it to him. So please, they have an intend to make people know thier stance and what they have requested to the PM. As a prime minister who have been very late in responding to issues on righ wing fascist groups Lynching and killing people in the name of Ram and Religion, its for sure a push. And especially in the context that there is not even a response which came out from PMO on the anxiety shared by these eminant personalities of Indian society

  3. Lawyer claims that he uses judiciary as a tool to get relief to public. I don’t understand how involving celebrities in bogus cases every now and then helps public? He seems to be another Jolly LLB.

  4. A Private Citizen of India filed a Complaint in a Police Station & accordingly FIR was registered. Here no role of Central or State Govt in the summon issued by the Court. Still Press, these 49 VIPs blaming Modi , or Govt of India & saying Democracy is in great danger. Even National Daily in its Editorial condemning Govt & Modi on the issue. Are our Press & VIPs so illiterate not to understand Govt has nothing to with summons issued by the Court?

  5. Yes. at the outset most of these so called celebrities has signed & sent the letter to PM or PMO nothing wrong every citizen can do it. But there is a point stated by the litigant that apart from rather privately doing so, they have published in the media to attract & gain a kind of wide publicity by showing India in a awkward position internationally, as though these lynching is happening in every nook & corner of the country, state government is encouraging this and as if this kind of incidence never happened earlier. which will have a bad ramification internationally, as we have seen a loose statement made by Rahul Gandhi has exploited by Pakistan & China has made the UN to hear unofficially/behind the closed door meeting, is one of the reason.
    Why only this issue come out & take other issues also quit your film dom & take up & fight the cause full time. Like Priya who is fighting a legal battle with a ex Minister on sexual harassment case, though it may or may not stand in the court of law for various reasons, evidence this & that etc., but she is very clear to face the consequence though it is a tedious process may drain her by financially, mentally & career-wise . Whether she will win or loose the case that is different but the commitment shown by her is earned her applauds , appreciation & respect. It should be like this, I am sure none of these so called celebrities interest, time & commitment towards the social cause, most of them are adhoc socialites.

    I feel pity for Mani to fall in this trap , rather he should have taken his wife’s Suhasini’s advise before signing this petition. Both she & Kushubu the other actress & politician has to face the law on some statement they have made on Public platform. next over 3 to 5 years they have to suffer for defending the statement & allegation legally. Suhasini openly in a TV interview, after the case got dismissed in their favor said that at some point of time she has felt why the hell she got inovolved in all this without knowing the consequences & questions raised on that. some how full time politicians get through but it is not easy for others, initially, they will instigate you to do such things being a public/star figures later on you have to suffer they will leave you in lurch.
    Like Kamal Hassan who is almost at the fag end of his career as Producer/Actor can be involved in furll time politics, that to be in a lime light projecting
    himself as a savior of the Tamil People with the help of script writers to make statements like the recently one…Sultan, Shah, Hindi etc., so at the end of the day his position is like ‘Dhobhi ka Gadha’ rest you all know it…

    All right guys face the legal challenge with your claims by substantiating your claim through Datas come clean or apologize to the court & public if you signed this petition & went to Media without studying the case & consequences. All the Best.
    Nagesh S Rao

    • Is public criticism of the government a crime?

      It is clear that an attempt is being made to misuse the law and it is sadder that some people are supporting it.

      Of course the law would take its course. The honourable courts have given their verdict on such cases in the past and this one too will be exposed for what it is – an attempt at cheap publicity.

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