The Delhi High Court refused to grant an order of interim injunction against the online streaming of Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl in the suit moved by Central Government and Indian Air Force.
While making Flight Lieutenant Gunjan Saxena as a party to the suit, a single Judge Bench of Justice Rajiv Shakdher ordered that the Indian Air Force be deleted as the second Plaintiff.
“Union of India is enough“, the Court said as it questioned if the Indian Air Force was a juridical entity.
Appearing for the Central Government, Additional Solicitor General Sanjay Jain argued that Gunjan Saxena – The Kargil Girl showed the Indian Air Force as an organization which practised gender bias.
Contending that the movie damaged and dented the reputation of the Indian Air Force, ASG Jain remarked that the movie made the armed force a “subject matter of ridicule” in India and abroad.
Seeking an order of interim injunction to take down the movie from the streaming platform, Netflix, ASG Jain inter alia submitted that neither was an NOC obtained from the Central Government for the release of the movie nor were the concerns flagged by the Indian Air Force addressed by the makers.
Appearing for Dharma Productions, Senior Advocate Harish Salve submitted that the movie was only “inspired” from the life of Gunjan Saxena.
Claiming that he has already seen the movie, Senior Advocate Salve added,
The Air Force comes out in glory. There is no organization which does not have gender issue.. Anything said in critisism is not slander. Haven’t we seen it (gender bias) in our profession? You can’t pick four scenes and say slander.. A letter (from the Chief of Staff) does not curtail free speech.
Senior Advocate Neeraj Kishan Kaul, for Netflix, informed that the movie was shown to the Indian Air Force in February and even the script was shared. Senior Advocate Amit Sibal also appeared for Netflix.
The Court, at the very outset, clarified that it was not inclined to grant an injunction in respect of a movie which has already been released.
During the course of the arguments, the Court recalled the Spycatcher case before the House of Lords and asked ASG Jain if he knew what the newspaper headline said the next day after an injunction was granted?
“You Old Fools“, Senior Advocate Harish Salve replied.
“The moral of the story is.. the book (Spycatcher) was already published.”, Justice Shakdher said.
The Court noted that the movie had been streaming on Netflix for days and remarked that the Centre should have moved the Court sooner.
While assuring that the concerns raised by the Centre would be looked into, the Court granted the Defendants 10 days time to respond to the suit.
In its plaint before High Court, Centre has asserted that Dharma Productions has projected its commercial film as a historical biopic and distorted the true and correct facts purely for sensationalization.
The portrayal in the movie is contrary to the ethos, work culture and work ethic of the Indian Air Force, it is said.
The matter would be heard next on September 18.