The Supreme Court on Monday refused to intervene in the release of movie Prime Minister Narendra Modi , allegedly a “blatant propaganda dressed up as art in violation of the Model Code of Conduct for the coming elections.”
A Bench led by Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi said the Court cannot step in unless it was clear about what the film was “seeking to depict” and what petitioner Aman Panwar, a Congress activist, is objecting to about the movie.
“We have not seen the film. We do not know the contents of the film. How can we order anything without knowing what we are ordering about?” Chief Justice Gogoi asked senior advocate A.M. Singhvi, who represents Mr. Panwar.
Mr. Singhvi said the film was not yet released and the only insight into its theme was the publicity and trailers shown so far. “There has been a publicity blitzkrieg for the past 40 days. This is a direct attack on the Basic Structure of the Constitution which guarantees free and fair elections. So far nobody has seen the film, but once it is released how can it be stopped? Just consider the ramifications,” he submitted.
'File application after watching film'
The Bench then asked Mr. Panwar to file an application, if possible, by Monday after watching the film. The application should highlight the parts found objectionable by him and why he found it a violation of the Model Code of Conduct, it said.
To this, Mr. Singhvi said the court should then direct the filmmakers to provide a copy of the movie to Mr. Panwar. But the court refused.
“We fail to see how such a direction can be passed by this court,” Chief Justice Gogoi responded.
The film is set to release on April 11, the first phase of Lok Sabha polls.
Mr. Panwar has said the movie is not an innocuous work of art as repeatedly claimed by the producers, the director and lead actor Vivek Oberoi.
In fact, the petition argued, chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification Prasoon Joshi is listed and credited as one of the artists who worked on the film. It said that all four producers were card-carrying official BJP members. Two of them had held official posts in the party machinery. The fourth was a participant in ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ and had recently signed, through his company, a MoU with the BJP government in the State for a reported sum around of ₹177 crore.
The upper echelons of the BJP have direct association with the movie, with Maharashtra Chief Minister releasing the first poster and BJP president Amit Shah was scheduled to release other similar promotional material, it said.