The Supreme Court (SC) on Monday ordered the Election Commission (EC) to watch the movie PM Narendra Modi from start to finish after the film’s producer complained the commission had banned it for the election season after watching just the trailer.
EC has been asked to submit its decision on whether the biopic is fit to be released during the poll season in a sealed envelope to the apex court.
On 10 April, the EC passed an order staying the release of the movie. Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing on behalf of the film’s producer, told the court that the “Election Commission has not even watched the entire movie and has arbitrarily imposed the ban".
A Supreme Court bench headed by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and comprising Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna said: “We are informed at the Bar that the Election Commission or its representative(s) had no occasion to watch the movie or a substantial part of it, and the impugned order has been passed upon viewing the short duration trailer."
“Without commenting on merits of the order of the Election Commission, at this stage, we would like the Commission or its authorized representative to view the movie and thereafter consider the matter of public screening of the movie once again," it added.
The court also said that “if the petitioner(s) prays for an audience before the Election Commission or its authorized representative, the Election Commission would consider the same and grant such an audience".
The EC was directed to file its report by 19 April. The next date of hearing is on 22 April.
On 9 April, SC had refused to stay the ban on PM Narendra Modi and dismissed the petition saying that the EC shall decide on whether the movie will tilt the electoral balance towards any particular party. It had also observed that the movie had not yet received the certification from the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
On the following day, the CBFC granted a ‘U’ certificate to the film and asked the director, Omang Kumar, to make a few minor changes. The EC, however, stopped the film from being released, citing poll code violation, a day before its scheduled release on 11 April.