Rajasthan HC rejects plea to stay release of movie Sirf Ek Banda Kaafi Hai allegedly based on life of Asaram Bapu

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Petitioners claimed that the release of the movie in question is a violation of Section 228-A of the IPC, Section 23 of the POCSO Act and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

The Rajasthan High Court has recently denied an interim application for stay on the release of the film 'Sirf Ek Banda Kaafi Hai', which is allegedly based on the life of Asaram Bapu.

The application to stay the release of the movie had been filed earlier before the release date of the movie.

The movie is directed by Apoorv Singh Karki and produced by Zee5 Studio and others which represents Manoj Bajpayee as the main actor.

The single judge bench of Justice Pushpendra Singh Bhat held, "As per the trailer of the movie in question, there is nothing directly found related to Asaram Bapu, which could persuade this Court to grant the relief prayed for in the stay application filed by the petitioners herein referred as Shri Om Prakash Lakhyani Trustee, Sant Shri Asaram Ji and Sant Shri Asaram Ji Bapu, Chief Trustee, Sant Shri".

The trailer of the movie was aired on May 08, 2023, and the movie was about to be released on May 23, 2023, on the OTT Platform. After watching the trailer, court noted that it was revealed that nothing in the same was related to Asaram Bapu.

Further, the court stated that the denial of the stay application would not prevent either party from raising their legal issues at the time of the petition's final disposition on the merits.

Asaram Bapu, who is currently behind bars for rape, and Om Prakash Lakhani, a trustee of the Sant Shri Asaram Ji Ashram Charitable Trust, had filed the petition. Through the plea, they stated that the biopic was produced without Asaram Bapu's permission and portrayed him in a negative light.

According to the petition, the film violates Asaram's reputation and privacy rights by depicting him as the heinous "Ravana" who has committed heinous offences.

The counsel representing the petitioners had submitted that the contents of the movie in question are highly objectionable, obscene language had been used therein against Bapu by portraying him as “Ravan”, who allegedly has committed a heinous crime.

Further, they also submitted that prior to the release of the movie in question, a legal notice was served by the petitioners upon the respondents (producer and director of the movie) as well as the Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), but the same was never replied by them, instead the movie was released on the OTT Platform on May 08, 2023.

Furthermore, the petitioners claimed that the release of the movie in question is a violation of Section 228-A of the IPC, section 23 of the POCSO Act and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.

Counsel also prayed that the court may pass an interim injunction order to delete the movie from OTT.

Petitioners had relied on the case of Kritika Padode & Anr Vs Union Of India & Anr. 2015 whereby the court refused to lift the ban imposed by a magistrate on the airing of the documentary “India’s Daughter”, wherein one of the convicts of the Nirbhaya rape case was remorselessly narrating the events of the incident therein.

While opposing the above submissions, counsel appearing for the respondent submitted that the present movie does not contain any name, photographs, family details, school, neighbourhood, or any other particulars, which may lead to the disclosure of the identity of the victim, as alleged by the petitioners, hence there is no violation of any provisions. Further, it was stated that the movie is a fictional work and was s inspired by real-life events, which are available well within the public domain.

The bench after hearing contentions of the parties said, “For grant of any interim injunction order on the movie in question, it is necessary that the case falls within the parameters for grant of injunction.”

In the present scenario, the petitioners have not been able to make out prima facie so as to persuade this Court to pass any interim injunction order in regard to the movie in question, court added.

The court also noted that by the factual matrix, there was no irreparable loss that was being caused to the petitioners.

The court listed the matter for further consideration on the second week of July.

Case Title: Shri Om Prakash Lakhyani Trustee & Ors. V. Union Of India & ors.

Staute: Section 228-A of the IPC, section 23 of the POCSO Act and Article 21 of the Constitution of India.