Gujarat HC Stops Netflix From Releasing ‘Maharaj’

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Gujarat HC Stops Netflix From Releasing ‘Maharaj’

| Updated: June 14, 2024 09:26

The court has issued notices to Yash Raj Films and the OTT platform

A day before the movie ‘Maharaj’ was set to release, the Gujarat High Court on Thursday temporarily restrained Yash Raj Films and Netflix from releasing the film. The next hearing in the case is on June 18.

This action came following a petition by several followers of Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect who identify themselves as devotees of Lord Krishna. The court has also issued notices to Yash Raj Films and the OTT platform.  Bollywood actor Aamir Khan’s son Junaid Khan is making his debut in the movie.

The movie is based on the Maharaj Libel Case 1862 in the colonial era. The petitioners have raised objections on the ground that excerpts of the movie contain “scandalous and defamatory language, which affects the Pustimargi sect as a whole”. 

Fear of violence 

The petition says the release of the movie is likely to incite feelings of hatred and violence against the Pustimargi sect, which would be in breach of code of ethics under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021. 

The 1862 judgement relates to a libel case brought forth by religious leader Jadunathji against social reformer Karsandas Mulji who was also an editor of a weekly newspaper. An article was published by Mulji that Jadunathji had alleged sexual liaisons with female followers and that men were expected to show their devotion by offering their wives for sex. Mulji won the case.

The petitioners submitted that a representation was submitted in April to Yash Raj Films and Netflix by another body but the producer and the OTT platform did not agree to a request for a private screening or issue of a clarification. 

The petitioners stated that the secrecy maintained by the respondents makes them apprehensive. Given the reach of OTT platforms, it would be difficult to rectify the damage caused, they said. 

Taking into consideration the arguments of the petitioners, the court of Justice Sangeeta Vishen temporarily stayed the release of the movie while issuing notice to the respondents which include Yash Raj Films, Netflix, Central Board of Film Certification and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

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