The Delhi High Court Wednesday refused to stay at this stage the streaming of Netflix movie, 'Gunjan Saxena - The Kargil Girl', on the Centre's plea that it depicts the Indian Air Force (IAF) in bad light. Justice Rajiv Shakdher asked the Centre as to why it did not approach the court before the release of the movie on the Over The Top (OTT) platform, and said an injunction cannot be granted now as the film is already streaming. The movie was released on Netflix on August 12.
The high court issued notices and sought response of Dharma Productions Private Limited, which produced the film, its directors Karan Yash Johar and Hiroo Yash Johar, CEO Apporva Mehta, Zee Entertainment, Netflix Entertainment Services India LLP and M/s Netflix on the Centre's suit and interim application to remove the movie from all OTT platforms.
The court said it was of the view that former Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, on whose life the film is based, should also be made a party to the suit and issued notice to her seeking her response.
The court has listed the matter for further hearing on September 18 and asked the Centre to remove IAF from the memo of parties, saying the government can itself take this forward.
Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain (ASG), representing the Centre, said the movie has dented the image of the IAF as it showed that the force is gender biased, which is not correct.
The government, in its suit filed through central government standing counsel Gaurang Kanth, sought a decree of permanent injunction against the defendants from broadcasting or releasing in theatres or any other digital platform the film ‘Gunjan Saxena’, without grant of no-objection certificate (NOC) from it.
Jain argued that the picture was never shown to the preview committee, set up in accordance with the Ministry of Defence’s 2013 guidelines, NOC was not taken from the Centre of IAF, objections flagged by them were ignored and a Memorandum of Understanding (MoC) was not signed.
He sought injunction against streaming of the film saying it is a continuing cause of action and the movie has shown IAF in a very poor light as if the force is gender biased.
“In the India Air force, we give the highest regards to women. We have been made a subject matter of ridicule even for countries with whom we are not having friendly relations. IAF’s image has been dented,” the ASG contended.
Senior advocate Harish Salve, appearing for Dharma Productions, said the Centre’ plea is devoid of basic particulars and he has also seen the movie which had portrayed the IAF in a very good light.
“The movie starts by saying that it is inspired by the story of...I saw the movie yesterday and IAF comes out in glory. There is no organisation which does not have gender issues. Anything said in criticism is not slander. Haven't we seen it (gender bias) in our profession? You can't pick four scenes and say slander. A letter (from the Chief of Staff) does not curtail free speech,” he submitted.
Senior advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, representing Netflix, told the court that the script of the movie was shared with the IAF in 2018 and the film was shown to them in February.
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