04/04/2019 12:05 PM IST | Updated 04/04/2019 12:26 PM IST

Ban On Modi Biopic Will Infringe On Right To Freedom Of Expression, BJP Tells EC

“Independent artists, influenced by the lifestyle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, created the film but the BJP is in no way involved in it," the party said.

Film poster

The BJP told the Election Commission it had no connection to the biopic PM Narendra Modi and its makers but said a ban on the film would infringe on right to freedom of expression, reports said.

The EC had earlier sent a notice to the party and to the makers of the film following a meeting with a Congress delegation, which sought a ban on its release ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

In its reply to the EC notice, BJP said a ban on the film would infringe on the constitutional right to freedom of expression and any kind of prohibition will infringe upon the basic fundamental right.

“Independent artists, influenced by the lifestyle of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, created the film but the BJP is in no way involved in it. There is no content related to the election which can be banned under the model code of conduct” the party said, quoted News18

The film was due to release on Friday, 5 April, Mumbai Mirror reported that its may be deferred to next week as multiplexes had dropped it from their programming schedule.

The EC is unlikely to prevent the release of the biopic and may leave it to the CBFC to take a call on the issue, poll panel sources told PTI on Wednesday.

Opposition parties including the Congress, had alleged the film will give undue advantage to the BJP in electioneering and its release should be deferred till the elections are over.

The seven-phase Lok Sabha polls begin on April 11 and end on May 19. The model code of conduct, which among other things, calls for an even-playing field for all parties and candidates, came into force on March 10 when the elections were announced.

There is a view in the Commission that the Central Board of Film Certification is the competent authority to decide on the matter.

A poll panel functionary pointed to at least two Supreme Court rulings on release of movies.

In one of the rulings, the SC had directed the West Bengal government to ensure that the screening of satirical film Bhobishyoter Bhoot is not obstructed.

The movie was critical of the state chief minister.

“We also have to see the latest Delhi High court ruling which said the biopic screening should be decided by EC,” he said, adding the model code is silent on films and it was a grey area.

He said the Election Commission has to keep the court verdicts in mind.

The EC is yet to announce any decision on the issue, officially.

The Delhi and Bombay High Courts on Monday had disposed of pleas seeking deferment of the release of the biopic.

The Delhi HC had said that the EC will deal with the issue.

The Supreme Court has agreed to hear on 8 April a Congress leader’s plea seeking stay on release of the film. A bench headed by Justice S A Bobde said it will hear the plea on Monday.

(With PTI inputs)