DECLINING TO stay the theatre release of Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl, the Delhi High Court Thursday said there is a view about the existence of gender bias but courts cannot go around saying “you are wrong”. The court was hearing a suit filed by the Centre against the movie—which is already available on an OTT platform—for allegedly portraying the Indian Air Force as misogynistic.
Adjourning the matter to January 18, the court said it would see the movie before further proceedings. When the Centre pressed for a stay on release of the movie in theatres, the court said it has already been released online.
“Some of us did not have the time but everyone has seen it. Who will go to the theatre amid Covid?” the court observed. It also asked the counsel—including Harish Salve, the counsel for Dharma Productions—to exchange views among themselves and try to sort out the issue.
Observing that perceptions of people and artists may vary, Justice Rajiv Shakdher said, “You may or may not agree with that. They say there is gender bias in the organisation. Today it is the Air Force, tomorrow it could be bureaucracy… it could be our profession too. There is talk of gender bias in the courts… The judges may or may not agree but it is a view. The courts cannot go around saying that ‘you are wrong’”.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain submitted that the Centre was “extremely proud” of Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena (retd) and it is none of its concern when her personal life is shown but only the part when her interface with IAF is shown. “They (producers) do not get the artistic licence to defame a living organisation of national importance. We are not just any Tom, Dick and Harry.”
The court said the argument cannot be that you agree with the part that suits you and disagree with the part that does not suit you. “There is a lot of storm in a teacup. You can add the disclaimer that it does not reflect the true life story of Ms. Gunjan Saxena,” observed the court.
“You (movie makers) distort our image in the name of creative cinematic expression… This disclaimer is an eyewash and cannot efface the dent caused to the image of Indian Air Force by showing a large number of scenes in which it is portrayed as misogynist,” said Jain.
In her reply to the court on Wednesday, Saxena said she “at the institutional level” did not face any gender discrimination.
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