The Supreme Court dismissed on Tuesday a petition seeking a stay on the UK release of Bollywood period drama, Padmavati, and also asked political leaders to stop “pre-judging” the film which has angered right-wing Hindu groups for allegedly distorting history.
A bench headed by Chief Justice of India, Dipak Misra, said statements made by persons holding power or high office about the movie is tantamount to “pre-judging” it before it is cleared by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC).
“When the matter is pending for CBFC’s consideration, how can persons holding public offices comment on whether CBFC should issue (a) certificate or not? It’ll prejudice the decision-making of CBFC,” the bench said while dismissing the PIL filed by ML Sharma, who had in the past too filed a similar petition against Padmavati.
“We are sure they (the leaders) will be guided by the basic premise under the rule of law and not venture outside,” the bench added.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the movie director and producer, said the film would not be released aboard until it receives a CBFC certificate.
“There is no intention to do so as of now,” he said, telling the court that it would harm the movie’s business interest if it is screened abroad first.
The CJI also refrained from imposing a fine on Sharma but said his PIL was an abuse of the process of law.
Central government law officers, additional solicitor generals Maninder Singh and P Narasimha, appeared for the government.
Padmavati is battling mounting protests by the Rajput community, which claims a distortion of history in the depiction of legendary queen Padmini, who is said to have killed herself to avoid being captured by Muslim emperor Alauddin Khilji.
Padmini is believed to have committed ‘jauhar’ – the medieval Rajput practice in which female royals walked into funeral fires to embrace death over the dishonour of being taken captive.
Earlier this month, the head of the Rajput Karni Sena in Rajasthan said Padukone should have her nose cut -- a symbol of public humiliation -- for being part of a film that allegedly insults the famed queen.
Amid mounting pressure, the film’s makers deferred its release and announced that new release date will be decided only after the CBFC clears it.