Gujarat HC's Interim Stay On Digital Release Of Junaid Khan's Maharaj Extended By A Day

Gujarat HC's Interim Stay On Digital Release Of Junaid Khan's Maharaj Extended By A Day

Members of the Pushtimarg sect have filed a petition against the release after they came across articles about the film which is based on the libel case of 1862 heard and decided by the British judges.

PTIUpdated: Wednesday, June 19, 2024, 07:58 PM IST
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The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday said it will take a call on whether to watch 'Maharaj,' the debut film of Bollywood star Aamir Khan's son Junaid, in order to decide on the plea against its release on streaming platform Netflix for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

The interim stay on the release of the movie granted by the court of Justice Sangeeta Vishen continued for one more day as the matter was kept for further hearing on Thursday.

Yash Raj Films (YRF), the producer of the movie, offered to provide the link and password to the court to watch the movie in order to decide whether it hurts the religious sentiments of a particular community as argued by the petitioners.

Members of the Pushtimarg sect have filed a petition against the release after they came across articles about the film which is based on the libel case of 1862 heard and decided by the British judges.

The petitioners have pointed out that the British-era court, which had decided the libel case, "Castigates the Hindu religion and makes seriously blasphemous comments against Lord Krishna as well as the devotional songs and hymns." It will be open for the court to decide on whether to watch the movie, it said while agreeing to hear the matter on merits and posted it for further arguments on Thursday.

"(Watching the movie) will be in addition to the submissions made by the learned counsels for the respective parties," Justice Vishen said that after the YRF offered to provide the link and password for the court to watch the movie.

The lawyers for the petitioners as well as respondent YRF submitted that while the court may watch the movie, they were not giving up on issues of maintainability of the petition.

"Let the arguments get over. If the court feels the need we will give the link, if the court feels there is no need, we will not," lawyer Shalin Mehta appearing for the YRF said.

Appearing for the petitioners, advocate Mihir Joshi said that he has no issue with the court watching the movie to decide on the petition.

"If it (movie) does not run down our religion then let them go ahead with the release. We are not interested in stretching the matter any further," he said.

The petitioners have claimed that their religious sentiments would be "seriously hurt" if the movie is permitted to be released, and is likely to affect the public order and incite violence against followers of the sect.

Earlier, the petitioners had approached the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting, requesting it to take immediate measures to block the film's release. However, there was no response or action from the ministry, it was stated.

Release of the movie is likely to incite hatred and violence against the Pushtimarg sect, which would be in breach of the code of ethics under the Information Technology Rules, and the self-regulation code of Over the Top Technology (OTT), they said.

The 1862 libel case was centred on a clash between a Vaishnavite religious leader and social reformer, Karsandas Mulji, who, in an article in a Gujarati weekly, had alleged that the godman had sexual liaisons with his female devotees.

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