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The Accidental Prime Minister: Punjab Congress leader moves High Court to stall the release of the movie

This is the third petition filed against the movie in various courts, with more petitions being planned

After the release of the trailer of The Accidental Prime Minister in December last year, the movie has been subject to widespread criticism and has invited several legal pleas against it. After a Bihar local court ordered police to launch FIRs against the actors of the movie on 8 January, acting on a plea filed in the court, a Congress leader from Punjab has now moved High court to stall its release.

According to reports, Anumit Singh Sodhi, a member of Pradesh Congress Committee in Punjab and son of state’s sports minister Rana Gurmeet Singh, has moved Punjab and Haryana high court to stall the release of the movie. The petition has been filed by advocate Kannan Malik, on the behalf of Congress leader, and demanded that court should quash the certification issued by Central Board of Film Certification. The petition argued that movie is doing injustice to the image of Former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. It added that the movie completely destroys the Manmohan Singh’s image, and weakens the image not only domestically but also internationally. The petition also said that the under Singh’s reign the “country has grown”.

The petitioner argued that movie’s release just months before General elections is a deliberate attempt to reap political benefits. The petitioner has so far not confirmed whether the petition is filed on his personal capacity or on behalf of the party.

Congress leaders have been trying hard to stall the release of the movie, alleging that the movie portrays their leaders in the bad light. Several Congress leaders have spoken against the movie, and the Maharashtra unit of Youth Congress had sent a letter to the producers of the movie asking for a special screening for them before the theatrical release of the movie so that they can censor it.

On January 3, a lawyer named Sudhir Kumar Ojha filed a case against the actors of the movie for ‘damaging the image of some top people’. The case was filed in Muzaffarpur’s Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) court on January 3. Acting on which, the court had asked the police to launch FIR against Anupam Kher (portraying Manmohan Singh) and Akshay Khanna(portraying author of the book, Sanjaya Baru), along with 13 others.

A similar plea was also filed at Delhi High court by a fashion designer, Pooja Mahajan through lawyer Arun Mattri. The high court had rejected the plea and asked the petitioner to convert her plea into a PIL. Following which on 8 January a PIL was filed in the court, which was to be heard on January 9. However, the PIL also couldn’t make an effect and was rejected again. The court also questioned the locus of the petitioner. Now, Mahajan has asserted that she will move to Supreme Court.

The petition filed at Delhi High court had cited that movie and its makers are violating  Section 416 of the IPC which prohibits and punishes impersonation of a person with the intention to harm an individual. The petitioner had also cited the fact that, movie makers had not obtained any NOC (No Objection Certificate) from Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi etc., which is a prerequisite according to the laid norms Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) for making a biopic, involving real-life people.

The petition filed by Congress leader of Punjab will be heard by Justice Krishna Murari and Arun Palli on Wednesday.

The trailer of the movie was released on 27th December on Youtube, and so far it has achieved 65.5 million views on the video streaming site. Although the Congress leaders claim that the trailer shows Dr Singh in a bad light, actually the opposite is true. The trailer shows the former prime minister as an honest man, who had to act against his wills due to the pressure of party leaders, including then Congress president Sonia Gandhi.

Amid this widening number of complaints in courts and police stations, the movie is scheduled to hit the theatres on January 11, if not stopped by any court. The movie is based on a book by the same name, authored by Manmohan Singh’s media advisor during UPA regime, Sanjaya Baru. The movie will release along with another movie Uri: The Surgical Strike, based on 2016 covert surgical strikes launched by Indian forces.

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