The release controversy of the PM Modi’s biopic Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a non-issue, says the Supreme Court against a petition that had challenged the film’s release as a ‘blatant propaganda’.
The Bench, led by the Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, said it would be premature to intervene as the film had not yet been certified. Scheduled for release on April 11, the court said any circumstance that arose from its release on that day and after would lie within the jurisdiction of the Election Commission of India (ECI). However, A.M. Singhvi, senior advocate for the petitioner and Aman Panwar, Congress Activist said the ECI had been sitting on a complaint filed by the Congress for two weeks.
Singhvi showed a two-minute official video footage of the film that ‘exactly corresponds with the anthem and election campaigneering of the BJP in the 2014 Lok Sabha election’. He told the court that the words used in the film could be found in the party’s campaign slogans of 2014. “Vivek Oberoi, the film’s lead actor is a star campaigner for the BJP. This is about a level playing field and violation of electoral law”, said Singhvi.
He argued that that the film should not be screened on the day of polling or 48 hours before the election.
The petition argued that the Prasoon Joshi, the chairman of the Central Board of Film Certification, was listed and credited as one of the artists who worked on the film. Moreover, all four producers were card-carrying official BJP members, with two holding official posts in the party machinery. And the fourth was a participant of ‘Vibrant Gujarat’ and recently signed, through his company, a MoU with the BJP government in the State for Rs 177 crore. Nevertheless, the court said the two-minute video was not enough to make ‘an assessment’ of the nature of the film. It said the question whether it worked to tilt the balance in favour of the BJP had to be addressed by the ECI.