Gunjan Saxena row: Delhi HC turns down IAF request for stay on streaming

Delhi High Court
Delhi High Court

The Delhi High Court has refused to grant stay on the streaming of the film, “Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl”, starring Janhvi Kapoor.

A single judge bench presided by Justice Rajiv Shakdhar deliberated on a petition filed by the Central government and the Indian Air Force, claiming that the film is showing IAF in a bad light.

“You (Centre) had to approach the court when the film was about to be released. I understand your concern, but an injunction cannot be granted at this stage as the film is already out,” the court said.

The bench also issued notices to filmmaker Karan Johar, who is one of the co-producers of the film, his banner Dharma Productions, the digital platform Netflix that streams the film, and Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena, after making her a party to the plaint.

The petition filed by the Ministry of Defence sought a permanent injunction ‘to restrain the defendants from broadcasting, telecasting, and releasing in theatres and/or any other digital/OTT platform or in any platform in any manner whatsoever, the film ‘Gunjan Saxena: The Kargil Girl’ in public domain, privately or otherwise, by any means whatsoever, without the grant of NOC from the Plaintiff (IAF)’.

It also sought the court’s directions for ‘removal of the film and/or any part or scene thereof from all OTT platforms including Netflix’.

“The Indian Air Force believes in gender equality and has always ensured a healthy working environment for all its officials, uninfluenced by their gender, caste, region, religion, etc.,” the plea said, adding that the IAF has always provided equal opportunities to the meritorious officers.

There are many female officers in the service of the Indian Air Force who became part of important historical events of our country by actively participating in the combat and supporting roles, the plea added.

During the hearing, Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Sanjay Jain, appearing for the Central government and the IAF, said that the motion picture in question has not been shown to the preview committee, nor has any NOC been taken from the IAF.

He added that the general practice of signing of an MOU with the IAF has also not been carried out. “This is graver than an ordinary defamation case, this is the question of the Indian forces. Everyday this defamation, discouragement is happening to the IAF,” the ASG said.

Meanwhile, a separate bench of the High Court had last week directed the authorities to treat the petition, against the film, seeking stay on the streaming of the film alleging that it is portraying a negative image of the Indian Air Force (IAF), as a representation.

“We hereby direct the concerned respondent authorities to decide the representation of the petitioner in accordance with law, rules, regulations and government policies applicable to the facts of the case, said a division bench of the High Court, presided by Chief Justice D. N. Patel and Justice Prateek Jalan on August 28.

The court’s direction came in after the counsel appearing for the petitioner submitted that he would be satisfied if the government bodies were directed by the court to consider his representation. The court was hearing a petition filed by the NGO Justice For Rights Foundation through advocate Amit Kumar Sharma.

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