A 3 Judge Bench of the Supreme Court is hearing the petition challenging the order passed by the Election Commission of India stalling the release of the biopic showcasing the life and events of current Prime Minister Narendra Modi during the operation of the Model Code of Conduct in view of the General Elections 2019.
In todays' hearing, Mr. Mukul Rohatgi appearing for the petitioner, the producers of the film reminded the Court that a plea seeking a stay on the release of the film in question had earlier been dismissed by the Court observing that a two minute trailer was not sufficient material to decide whether the film would impact the level playing field during elections and left the matter to the wisdom of the Election Commission. The Election Commission had however passed the order dated April 10th stalling the release of the film without so much as viewing the film.
Chief Justice Gogoi inquired from the counsel appearing for the Election Commission of India whether the other banning the release of the film during the elections had been passed after viewing the film and was informed that the Commission had not seen the film. The Bench comprising CJI Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Deepak Gupta, and Justice Sanjiv Khanna accordingly directed the Election Commission to reconsider the question of release of the film after the concerned advisory body had viewed the film. At this point, Mr. Rohatgi submitted that the producers would screen the film for the commission the next day on April 16th and the Commission may reach a decision by Friday and the matter can be taken up on next Monday, April 22nd. This would also ensure that the petitioners were not at a loss. He further requested that the petitioners be given an opportunity to appear before the Election Commission.
CJI Ranjan Gogoi accepted the submissions made by Mr. Rohatgi and accordingly passed the order directing the Election Commission to finalize its decision in terms of the above by Friday (19.04.2019) and inform the result to the Court in a sealed cover. Further, were the Petitioners to pray for an audience before the Commission or its authorized representative, the Election Commission would consider the same and grant such an audience.
The case will be taken up for hearing next on Monday April 22nd.