The Bombay High Court on Wednesday refused to grant any interim relief to Peter Mukerjea, former media baron and an accused in the Sheena Bora murder case, on a petition seeking a stay on the release of the Bengali film Dark Chocolate.
Saying that the court could not interfere and issue “gag orders” unless it was convinced that one’s “Right to a fair trial was being affected,” a bench of Justices S C Dharmadhikari and G S Patel held that the petition was premature.
The petition was filed by Mukerjea’s sister Shangon Dasgupta and alleged defamation saying that the film makers were openly promoting the film and its characters as those inspired by the Sheena Bora case.
The bench, held that Dasgupta’s apprehensions were “premature” since she had relied only on the promos or trailer released by the film makers on the internet.
The bench said that the petitioner should have gone through the entire film and its script before making any allegations. It said that the trailer alone could not be considered as adequate premise for the allegations of defamation and contempt.
Besides, the bench said, Dasgupta should have stuck to inferring “only whether her brother’s right to a fair trial was being affected by the film or not.”
“In each of the past incident in which courts have restricted public viewings of films or television programmes, including the case of the film Black Friday, it has always been the accused persons who have personally approached the court. They have established that the complete plot depicts scene by scene the exact incident that took place and thus, prejudices their trials,” the bench said.
“The court can’t pass a gag order refusing a citizen the right to circulation, public viewing and expression on mere apprehensions,” the bench said. “ Besides, the depiction of what is already in public domain doesn’t necessarily prejudice you, “ it said.
It also took note of the film director and producer’s submission in court that the film was still in the post production stage and was yet to apply for certification.
While restricting the film makers from releasing the film without informing the court and the petitioner, the bench also granted permission to Dasgupta to amend her petition and to make Peter Mukerjea a party in the petition.
HC will take up the matter for further hearing in two weeks’ time.
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