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Supreme Court hearing on plea seeking delay in release of Modi biopic will be on 8 April

The film, PM Narendra Modi, starring actor Vivek Oberoi in Modi’s role was due for release on 5 April, less than a week before the elections begin.

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court will on 8 April hear petitions seeking to defer the release of a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The film, PM Narendra Modi, starring actor Vivek Oberoi in the Prime Minister’s role, was earlier due for release on 5 April, less than a week before the elections begin on 11 April. The results will be announced on 23 May.

The petitioners are Congress leader and advocate Aman Panwar, and Satish Gaikwad, leader of the Republican Party of India (RPI).

Panwar had filed the petition in the apex court earlier this week. Senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi, representing Panwar, contended that the film’s release shortly before the elections would affect free and fair polls. As a result, democracy and the basic structure of the Constitution would also be affected, he said.

“In the middle of elections, why should such a film by the people connected to the ruling party be allowed? It would affect level-playing field,” Singhvi argued before a Supreme Court bench comprising Justices S.A. Bobde, S. Abdul Nazeer and Indira Banerjee.

RPI leader Gaikwad has also moved the apex court after the Bombay High Court dismissed his plea on 1 April. The high court had refused to interfere in the matter and dismissed Gaikwad’s plea on the grounds that the Election Commission (EC) would look into the issue.

The EC, on its part, had submitted before the high court that the film did not violate the Model Code of Conduct (MCC) and that it had already issued a notice to the filmmakers. The MCC had kicked in after election dates were announced on 10 March.

Challenging the Bombay HC’s order, Gaikwad submitted before the Supreme Court that the high court had not “applied the judicious mind” while deciding on the issue.

Also read: SC order upholding censor board’s authority likely to guide EC response on Modi biopic

‘Ignoring election code of conduct’

In his petition, Gaikwad expressed his apprehension over “the contents of the movie (that) may influence the innocent voters of this country”. He said the trailer of the film was released 10 days after the MCC came into place.

Gaikwad said the time and date when the trailer was released cannot be taken in a simple manner.

“The reason behind this is that this activity to get the trailer released even after imposition of election code of conduct shows that it is not only the respondent no. 5 (Suresh Oberoi, one of the film producers and Vivek’s father) rather it shows the collusion of all the respondents which have syndicated to get the trailer released while ignoring and disobeying the election code of conduct,” the petition stated.

“…while releasing the trailer even after the imposition of election code of conduct has not only disobeyed the election code of conduct rather while doing this respondents have tried to show as if no rule of law exists in the state,” it said.

Gaikwad said by attempting to release the film at this opportune time, the filmmakers violated the rights of the citizens. “…direct the respondents to not interfere in the execution of the election process as the contents of the movie are about one of the candidates of the 17th general election which is scheduled to be held from 11 April 2019 to 19 May 2019.”

Gaikwad, in his petition, also said Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis had released the poster of the film and said the biopic would be “a source of inspiration and PM Modi’s life will be portrayed to the world in this movie”.

Also read: Former civil servants urge EC to stall release of Modi biopic until election results


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