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Gujarat High Court to Watch “Maharaj” Film Before Decision on Stay Plea, to Check if Hurts Religious Sentiments

The Gujarat High Court has decided to personally view the film “Maharaj” to check if it hurting religious sentiments, before ruling on a plea seeking to halt its release on the OTT platform Netflix

The film, featuring Junaid Khan, son of actor Aamir Khan, was scheduled for release on June 18 but was halted by an interim order on June 12, which remains in effect.

Single-judge Justice Sangeeta Vishen expressed her intention to assess whether any scenes in the movie could potentially offend religious sentiments, as alleged by the petitioners from the devotees of Lord Krishna following the Pustimarg sect. “I will watch the film as all the parties have agreed to it and given up their arguments. I will watch the film and decide if any scene in the film is objectionable or can hurt any religious sentiments,” Justice Vishen stated.

This decision follows suggestions from Senior Advocates Shalin Mehta and Jal Unwalla, representing Yashraj Films and Netflix respectively, who recommended that the court view the film to verify the allegations in the petition. Senior Advocate Mihir Joshi, appearing for the petitioners, also concurred with the court’s decision to watch the film first.

The petitioners raised concerns that the film, allegedly based on the 1862 Libel Case, could potentially disrupt public order and incite violence against their sect and Hinduism. They argued that the historical case, decided by English judges of the Supreme Court of Bombay, contained derogatory remarks about Hinduism, Lord Krishna, and devotional songs.

Among other grievances, the petitioners pointed out the secretive release of the film without any trailer or promotional events, which they claimed was intended to conceal its storyline. They emphasized that the release of the movie would cause irreparable harm to their religious sentiments. Despite urgently appealing to the Ministry of Information & Broadcasting to block the film’s release, they reportedly received no response.

The Gujarat High Court bench accepted the recommendation to watch the film and scheduled the next hearing for June 20 to further deliberate on the matter.

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