Supreme Court dismisses plea seeking stay on release of Alia Bhatt starrer Gangubai Kathiawadi
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday dismissed a petition seeking a stay on the release of Bollywood film Gangubai Kathiawadi. The Alia Bhatt-starrer, produced by Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s Bhansali Production Pvt Ltd, is set to release on Friday.
A bench of Justices Indira Banerjee and JK Maheshwari dismissed Babuji Raoji Shah’s plea against the Bombay High Court order against various reliefs such as interim stay on the film’s release. “The SLP has been dismissed. Reasons behind it,” the bench said.
Initially, senior advocate A Sundaram, appearing for the filmmakers, told the bench that it would not be practically possible to change the name of the film, as suggested by it, as they would have to approach the censor board again.
He said that there cannot be any objection to the name of the film as the film has been given a censor certificate.
He questioned the whereabouts of the petitioner and said that Shah claims to be the adopted son of Gangubai without any evidence. “There is no ground for adoption. The person is claiming to be the adopted son and there is no prima facie evidence. He is a third party and has shown only one ration card to substantiate his claim. Proof of this Not even a whisper other than the ration card,” said Sundaram.
The senior counsel further submitted that prima facie nothing has been shown to the court to prove anything defamatory in the film. Sundaram said the entire case is based on a 2011 book which he did not consider challenging at that time. He said, “The book was “The Mafia Queens of Bombay”. Our film glorifies the woman for what she has achieved.
Sundaram said there are judgments to show that the right to defamation ends with the death of a person.
He said, “When I produce a film of a public figure who died 40 years ago, we’re trying to show what a great woman she was. If she lives in a red light area and She achieves great heights, so I am praising her more.”
The bench then asked, “What if there are condolences in the family?”
Sundaram replied that they are not family.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for the filmmakers, also argued that the film was not derogatory at all and glorified Gangubai’s character as to how she rose from a background and became an activist.
He said, “We have the certification of the film, it is ready for release. It is really out of our hands.”
Rohatgi also questioned the timing of the petition and asked, “Why is there a gap of nine months to challenge the Bombay High Court’s decision?
Advocate Rakesh Singh, appearing for the petitioner, argued that not only the individual but also the family members are affected by defamation. “They say the film is in the book and if the book is defamatory then the film is defamatory… The book says that he was having an affair and then he was pushed into a brothel in Kamathipura. This is also shown in the promo. ..The dialogue in the film is also defamatory to the victim.”
The bench then said that they have to establish a strong prima facie case on the basis of the status and merit of the case.
Shah had earlier moved the High Court seeking an order restraining the authors/publishers of the novel from making any third party rights over his mother’s (Gangubai Kathiawadi) life or writing any other story. He also demanded a ban on the release of the film ‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’.
The High Court, in its order passed on July 30 last year, had dismissed the application holding that any material of defamatory nature dies with the death of that person. “The appellant (Shah) has to demonstrate that he is the adopted son of the deceased Gangubai Kathiawadi, which he prima facie failed to do,” the high court said. Can be brought in court by any person provided he has made a claim for defamation.
The High Court had held that merely because the appellant is claiming to be the son of such person, prima facie it cannot be inferred that he has a legal right to show enjoyment.
Earlier, a lower court had dismissed Shah’s defamation suit, leading to an appeal in the high court, which also refused to grant him any interim relief.