SC directs poll body to watch PM Modi biopic and submit decision in sealed cover

Vivek Oberoi in a still from ‘PM Narendra Modi’.

The Supreme Court on Monday directed the Election Commission to watch the biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and take a final call on its release. The apex court asked the EC to submit its decision by April 22 in a sealed cover. The makers of the Bollywood film had moved the court after its release was blocked by the EC last week.

The EC had invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 324 of the Constitution to stall the film’s release. Such films, the EC said, "affect the level playing field which is not in consonance with the provisions of Model Code of Conduct."

The order has also affected the release of two other films: Lakshmi's NTR on TDP founder N T Rama Rao, and Udyama Simham on Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrashekar Rao's struggle for the separate state of Telangana.

In a separate order, the poll panel also imposed a ban on public screening of "any biopic material in the nature of biography/ hagiography" which could serve the interest of a political party or candidate, while the Model Code of Conduct is in force.

The Model Code of Conduct, in its present form, doesn't explicitly prohibit screening of films based on a candidate or a political party. Hence, the EC invoked its extraordinary powers under Article 324 to stop the screening of the biopics.

After the film titled PM Narendra Modi received a 'U' certificate from the Central Board of Film Certification, producer Sandip Ssingh had said, "We are very happy that we got the 'U' certificate from the Censor Board, and finally the film will be releasing on April 11. We are also very relieved that the Supreme Court has rejected the plea. It is clear now from everywhere. I hope no political party across India has any problem, because the Election Commission, the CBFC, and all the courts have cleared all the pleas, and our film is ready for release. We are grateful to each and everyone who has prayed for us."

The biopic stars Vivek Oberoi, who plays Narendra Modi.

In a separate development, Delhi’s Chief Electoral Officer has written to the poll panel saying that a web series on the prime minister that is available on the Eros Now website was streaming without certification from the Media Certification and Monitoring Committee (MCMC).