Bombay HC quashes PIL opposing release of film 'Kedarnath'
The Bombay High Court dismissed Thursday a PIL opposing the release of Bollywood film "Kedarnath" for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and "lowering the dignity" of the eponymous deity.
The film, starring Sushant Singh Rajput and Sara Ali Khan in the lead, is set to release on Friday.
A bench of Chief Justice Naresh Patil and Justice M S Karnik heard all parties at length but dismissed the public interest litigation (PIL), noting that it was not maintainable.
The petition, filed by two local lawyers Prabhakar Tripathi and Rameshchandra Mishra, claimed that the film, set in the backdrop of the 2013 Uttarakhand floods, dilutes the gravity of the calamity and hurt their religious sentiments.
"The storyline is imaginary and the movie is an untrustworthy story of love between a Hindu Brahmin girl and a Muslim boy connected with the natural disaster of Uttarakhand that took the lives of several Hindu pilgrims," the petitioners said.
They claimed that the film "lowered the dignity of Lord Kedarnath".
The PIL was opposed by the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) and the film's producers.
Appearing for the film's producers, senior advocate P Dakhepalkar told the bench that the movie was just a love story that used Kedarnath as its setting.
"The film is a love story between two persons belonging to different classes and faiths. It has no intention of hurting anyone," he said.
"Besides, our religious sentiments are not so frail that they will be affected by just a film that shows a temple in its background. Every right of freedom of expression must be given to us," he said.
Dakhepalkar argued that perhaps, some people were indeed very sensitive and their sensibilities might be affected but the court cannot go by that.
"Instead, the court must check if we have followed procedure and secured film certification," he said.
CBFC's counsel Advait Sethna told the bench that the board had very strict guidelines for issuing a certification to a film.
He said the board had followed all regulations in granting the certificate for public release of the film.
Both Sethna and Dakhepalkar pointed out that the high courts of Gujarat and Uttarakhand had already dismissed similar pleas opposing the film.
At this, the bench decided to dismiss the PIL.
However, it suggested that the authorities could think about constituting a body of experts to regulate and preview trailers and posters of films released online that currently go unsupervised by the CBFC or any similar body.
A detailed court order is likely to be made public later in the evening.
(With inputs from agencies.)
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