[dropcap]T[/dropcap]HE Election Commission of India (ECI) has stalled the release of biopic “PM Narendra Modi” on Prime Minister Narendra Modi till the Lok Sabha elections are over. It said a film that sub served the purpose of any political entity or individual should not be displayed in the electronic media.
The movie was scheduled to release on April 11, the same day when the seven-phase Lok Sabha elections begin.
“Any Biopic material in the nature of biography sub serving the purpose of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which has potential to disturb level playing field during the election, should not be displayed in Electronic media including cinematograph,” EC said in its order dated April 10, 2019, invoking its “extraordinary powers” under Article 324 of Constitution.
JUST IN: Election Commission of India in exercise of power vested in it by virtue of Article 324 of the Constitution, bans release of biopic of Prime Minister @narendramodi till Model Code of Conduct is in force. pic.twitter.com/ldyPRgpOYR
— The Leaflet (@TheLeaflet_in) April 10, 2019
The poll panel’s move comes a day after the Supreme Court rejected a petition filed by Congress activists seeking a stay in the movie’s release and said the ECI was the appropriate forum to decide whether the production tilted the electoral balance in favour of any party.
The plea had alleged that the “propaganda” movie was designed to “manipulate, influence and impress viewers and voters”.
The biopic which was slated to be released on April 5, was later deferred to April 11. Actor Vivek Oberoi, who is a star campaigner of the BJP, plays the titular role of Narendra Modi in the film.
With all your blessings, support and love,today we have won in the Honorable Supreme Court! A humble thank you to all of you and to the Indian juidiciary ? for upholding our faith in democracy! Thursday 11th April. Jai Hind?? ?? #PMNarendraModiWins https://t.co/fJLlgyslHQ
— Vivek Anand Oberoi (@vivekoberoi) April 9, 2019
The ECI was examining complaints on movies like NTR Laxmi, PM Narendra Modi and Udyama Simham, which allegedly diminish or advance the electoral prospect of a candidate or a political party under the garb of creative freedom.
The commission comprising Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, in its order, however, said the movies, may not fall under the category of “advertisement” strictly and may remain outside the purview of Media Certification & Monitoring Committee certification requirement.
“Such political contents poses a serious threat to the level playing field as it may create an impression of truthfulness of such content being shown through television, cinema, internet based entertainment programmes and social media,” it further stated, adding that “it is in the larger interest of ensuring the level playing field and conduct of free and fair elections that such political content ought to be regulated during the election period to prevent the violation of Model Code of Conduct.”
It also said that any complaints in this matter would be examined by a panel headed by a retired judge of the Supreme Court or retired Chief Justice of a high court.