Delhi HC reserves decision on ‘Padmaavat’ glorifying Sati or Jauhar

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Just when we thought all the drama surrounding ‘Padmaavat’ (2018) was over, it seems there is still the issue surrounding the glorification of ‘Sati’ or ‘Jauhar’. Despite a disclaimer in the film against the practice, a penal action was filed against Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

Reported on DNA India, at the Delhi High Court, A bench of Acting Chief Justice, Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar who where at the hearing, reserved their decision on the plea alleging the producers and directors glorified ‘Sati’, concluding that the film was not intentionally propagated by the makers of ‘Padmaavat’ (2018).

The bench referred back to the disclaimer, stating it is a work of fiction and therefore, it does not show any intention or animus on the part of the producers or director Bhansali, to propagate the practice. The hearing for the PIL was filed by social activist Swami Agnivesh, who is asking for the scene to be deleted. The petition, filed through advocate Mehmood Pracha, also seeks directions to the Delhi Police to lodge an FIR against Ajit Andhare, one of the producers, and Bhansali.

Central government standing counsel Manish Mohan, appearing for the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and the censor board, was also against the plea after the film was certified following a number of modifications made before finally given the all clear to release the film.

Pracha tried to argue that after watching the film he felt the film did glorify the message, but that argument was soon quashed by the bench saying, if the petitioner’s view was accepted, that would mean the scene showing attempted disrobing of Draupadi in the Mahabharata mythological drama would be construed as propagating sexual violence against women. “Just because someone shows something, does not mean it is propagation. If someone views it (film) and gets affected, then the person showing it cannot be blamed. The effect does not make out an offence.”

The bench also took into account, that in this day-and-age, the practice of ‘Sati’ or ‘Jauhar’ is not something that happens, and felt “Hesitant to accept” the petitioner’s plea, as it is unlikely viewers will feel encouraged to take such actions.

The bench had declined to hear the matter and asked the petitioner group, Jauhar Smriti Sansthan, to move the apex court as it had permitted the screening of the film. Previously, the apex court had managed to get a nationwide release, but maintained the ban on ‘Padmaavat’ (2018) releasing in Gujarat, Rajasthan, Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.

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