New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday sought to know whether movie, ‘Nyay: The Justice’, which is purportedly based on the life of late Bollywood actor Sushant Singh Rajput, has been released as scheduled on June 11 after both the director of the film and the actor’s father gave contradictory statements on the aspect.
The high court was hearing an appeal filed by Rajput’s father Krishna Kishore Singh challenging a single judge’s order refusing to stay the release of the movie or to restrain anyone from using his son’s name or likeness in movies.
A vacation bench of Justices Anup Jairam Bhambhani and Jasmeet Singh raised a preliminary query whether the film has been released on OTT platform as was scheduled on June 11.
A lot depends on whether the movie has been released or not. If it has been released, the matter can wait for the roster bench. If it has not been released, the court may be inclined to hear it now (during vacations), it said.
The bench asked if the movie has already been released, can it now reverse it and can the bell be unrung?
Senior advocate Jayant Mehta, representing Rajput’s father, said it has not been released yet.
However, senior advocate Chander Lall for the film director, said his instructions are to the contrary.
To this, senior advocate Harish Salve, also representing Rajput’s father, suggested that this fact be verified before proceeding further with the matter.
The bench said, let the fact be verified. To verify this aspect, list on June 25.
The single judge had on June 10, refused to stay the release of several movies, including ‘Nyay: The Justice’, saying these films are neither portrayed as biopic nor factual narration of what transpired in his life.
“Posthumous privacy right is not permissible”, it had said in its interim order on a plea by Rajput’s father to restrain such films.
During the hearing, Mehta submitted that the difficulty was not only release of the movie but also the manner in which the order was passed by the single judge.
He said the movie is going to infringe upon the right to privacy and the right to a fair trial and with each passing day, it is causing damage to the reputation of the actor.
The court also asked the counsel for plaintiff to serve a copy of the appeal to the advocate for the film director who claimed they have not received it.
The single judge had earlier said it found merit in the submissions of producers and directors that if information of events which have occurred is already in the public domain, one cannot plead any violation of right to privacy on a movie inspired from such events.
Some of the upcoming or proposed movie projects based on his son’s life are — ‘Nyay: The Justice’, ‘Suicide or Murder: A star was lost’, ‘Shashank’ and an unnamed crowd-funded film.
The court had directed the filmmakers to render complete accounts of the revenue earned from the films, if any case of damages is made out in future and listed the suit for completion of pleading before the joint registrar.
It had said the producers and directors claimed the films to be fictional rendition of true events surrounding the lives of film/TV personalities, including Rajput who was reportedly found dead at his home in Mumbai. The investigation is still on.
The had court said it does not find merit in the plaintiff’s contention to restraint on the strength of his right to fair trial relating to the unnatural death of his son, saying no foundation is set up to demonstrate how the films would impair the trial.
It had termed as misconceived, plaintiff’s plea that the content of the film is defamatory and will damage his and his son’s reputation.
The suit has claimed that in case a “movie, web-series, book or any other content of similar nature is allowed to be published or broadcasted, it would affect the right of the victim and deceased for a free and fair trial as it may cause prejudice to them”.
It has also contended that Rajput being a well-known celebrity, “any misuse of his name/ image/ caricature/ style of delivering dialogues also amounts to infringement of the personality right vested with the plaintiff besides amounting to acts of passing off”.
The contentions of Rajput’s father have been opposed by the filmmakers of the upcoming and proposed movies.
Watch this space for more updates.