Updated: April 10, 2019 6:43:26 pm
The Election Commission on Wednesday stalled the release of ‘PM Narendra Modi’, the biopic starring Vivek Oberoi, until the completion of the Lok Sabha election process. The Supreme Court had on Tuesday dismissed a petition seeking a stay on the film’s release, and left it to the Election Commission to decide “whether the film will tilt the electoral balance in favour of any political party”.
On Wednesday, the Election Commission ordered that “any biopic material in the nature of biography/hagiography sub-serving the purposes of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has the potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media including cinematograph during the operation of MCC” (Model Code of Conduct).
The Commission’s order underlined that “under Article 324 of the Constitution, superintendence, direction and control of elections are bestowed upon the Commission and it is the duty of the Commission to take necessary measures to create a level playing field and provide a conducive electoral environment to all the stakeholders.”
The EC recalled that “in catena of judgments, Hon’ble Supreme Court has held and acknowledged that the Model Code of Conduct, which ensures free and fair electoral proceess, which is sin[e] qua non for the electoral democracy”, and said that it was of “the considered view that there is an emergent need for intervention in the matter of those ‘political contents’ which are intended (or purported to be) for benefitting or discrediting the electoral prospect of any candidate or/and any political party, for ensuring a level playing field”.
The Commission said that it had “received complaints about certain cinemas namely ‘NTR Laxmi’, ‘PM Narendra Modi’, and ‘Udyama Simham’, which are claimed to either diminish or advance the electoral prospect of a candidate or a political party in the garb of creative freedom”, and act as “a kind of surrogate publicity by the candidate or the political party during the period of MCC”.
“Free and fair elections”, the Commission said in its order, “has not only been held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India to be a part of the basic structure of the Indian Constitution (People’s Union for Civil Liberties vs Union of India and Anr, 2013) but is also sacrosanct right of every citizen in a democracy”.
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