‘Narendra Modi’ Biopic Should Not Be Released During Operation Of Model Code Of Conduct: ECI
April 10, 2019
The Election Commission of India has stopped the release of biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The commission comprising of Chief Election Commissioner Sunil Arora, Election Commissioners Sushil Chandra and Ashok Lavasa, in its order, observed that any biopic material in the nature of biography/hagiography sub serving the purposes of any political entity or any individual entity connected to it, which is intended to, or which has potential to disturb the level playing field during the elections, should not be displayed in electronic media including cinematograph during the operation of model code of conduct.
It also ordered:
That any poster or publicity material concerning any such certified content, which either depicts a candidate (including prospective) for the furtherance (or purported to further) of electoral prospect, directly or indirectly, shall not be put to display in electronic media in the area where MCC is in operation. Any poster or publicity material concerning any such certified content, which either depicts a candidate (including prospective) for the furtherance (or purported to further) of electoral prospect, directly or indirectly In any cinematograph material, certified by the appropriate authority, if there exists such a violation or on receipt of complaints in this regard, a Committee, duly constituted by the Commission, shall examine the same and suggest appropriate action. This Committee shall be headed by a retired Justice of Hon'ble Supreme Court or retired Chief Justice of any Hon'ble High Court.
While dismissing the plea seeking stay of release of the movie, the Supreme Court had observed that whether the film will tilt the electoral balance in favour of any political party, is a question that can and should be addressed by the Election Commission of India.
Taking up the matter today, the commission said there is an emergent need for intervention in the matter of those 'political contents' which are intended (or purported to be) for benefitting or discrediting the electoral prospect of any candidate or/ and any political party, for ensuring a level playing field.
The commission was examining the complaint it received about certain cinemas like 'NTR Laxmi', 'PM Narendra Modi', and 'Udyama Simham', which are claimed to either diminish or advance the electoral prospect of a candidate or a political party in the garb of creative freedom.
The commission observed that these movies, though may not fall under the category of "advertisement" strictly and may remain outside the purview of MCMC certification requirement, '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 programs/ social media. And therefore, 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 violation of Model Code of Conduct, the commission said.
First published in Live Law.
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