The Supreme Court on Tuesday dismissed a plea seeking a stay on the release of PM Narendra Modi, a biopic on the Prime Minister, stating that the film has not yet been cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and that the Election Commission of India (EC) is the appropriate forum to decide whether the production tilts electoral balance in favour of any party.
The order came from a bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justices Deepak Gupta and Sanjeev Khanna, which heard the petition filed by Congress party activist Aman Panwar.
Appearing for Panwar, senior advocate Abhishek Manu Singhvi said the matter went into the heart of basic structure.
Disagreeing with his contention, the CJI-led bench rmarked, “We don’t think so. You are entitled to your views.”
As Singhvi persisted, the bench remarked, “Don’t force our hands. We are restraining ourselves. Too much of this court’s time is taken on these non-issues.”
The senior counsel contended that it raises constitutional question, as the film’s release on the eve of and during the elections will disturb the level-playing field.
On Monday, the court had asked the petitioner to bring on record what the film was seeking to depict and his objections to it.
Singhvi accordingly submitted an affidavit with details from its trailer — as the film is yet to be released — and the people behind it. He also wanted the court to watch the trailer, but the court refused. It said, “A two-minute viewing of parts of the film cannot help us make an assessment of the impact of the film on the forthcoming General Election.”
The court said, “Even if we are to assume that this court is inclined to undertake the said exercise, in doing so we may encroach upon the functions of the competent authority under the statute – the authority empowered with the duty to certify the film as fit for release (CBFC).”
The bench added, “Further, whether the film will tilt the electoral balance in favour of any political party is a question that can and should be addressed by the Election Commission of India.”