Delhi HC asks Chhapaak filmmakers: Why not credit Laxmi’s lawyer?

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The producer sought setting aside of the trial court's injunction order, saying they were not given an opportunity to contest it.

The Delhi High Court Friday asked the producer and director of the Deepika Padukone-starrer Chhapaak why they have not acknowledged the lawyer of acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal, on whose life the movie is based, for the inputs she shared with them.

The producer and director of the film, released in theatres Friday, contended before Justice Prathiba M Singh that Laxmi's advocate Aparna Bhat had no legal right, statutory or contractual, to seek acknowledgment for her contribution in the film in the form of consultation, inputs and documents.

The court posed the question while hearing a plea by Fox Star Studios challenging a trial court's Thursday order asking them to acknowledge the contribution of advocate Bhat.

The HC reserved its order on the challenge plea for Saturday, and also asked their counsel what was the difficulty in acknowledging the advocate, and why the filmmakers sought her inputs in the first place. To this, senior advocate Sandeep Sethi, appearing for the film’s director Meghna Gulzar, said there was no contract between the parties and seeking inputs did not confer any legal right on her to be acknowledged.

Senior advocate Rajiv Nayar, representing film producer Fox Star Studios, said the trial court did not hear them before passing an order, and an ad-interim ex-parte injunction was passed, which is unusual.

Bhat, represented by senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, submitted that she had fought the case for Laxmi pro bono and was not seeking any publicity, and she had been approached by Gulzar to bring authenticity to the movie.

The trial court, on Bhat's plea, had directed that the film carry the line "Aparna Bhat continues to fight cases of sexual and physical violence against women during the screening of the film".

The producer sought setting aside of the trial court's injunction order, saying they were not given an opportunity to contest it.