Gujarat High Court stays the release of Junaid Khan’s historical drama Maharaj

A petition was filed in the court by devotees of Lord Krishna and followers of Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect, saying that the film could incite violence
Poster of the film, Maharaj
Poster of the film, Maharaj

The release of Junaid Khan’s Hindi film debut, Maharaj, has been stayed by the Gujarat High Court following a petition filed by members of members of the Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect saying that the film could incite feelings of violence against their community. The film is based on the Maharaj Libel case of 1862 which was ignited by allegations of sexual misconduct by a priest and is considered to be a significant legal battle in history.

According to some reports, the petitioners claimed that the film’s release could amount to a breach of code of ethics under the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 and the Self-regulation Code of Over the Top Technology (OTT). They also said that they were not given a response by the makers on their request of having a film screening for the community before the film’s release.

The Gujarat HC sent notices to the makers of the film, Netflix India and Yash Raj Films as well as to Central Board of Film Certification and Ministry of Information and Broadcasting and ordered an ad-interim stay on the film’s release. The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for June 18.

The 1862 legal battle was sparked after social reformer Karsandas Mulji exposed a Vaishnavite religious leader for taking sexual favours from women by manipulating them. His article was published in a Gujarati weekly, Satyaprakash which invited a defamation charge from the godman. Karsandas ultimately won the suit.

The film also stars Jaideep Ahlawat, Shalini Pandey and Sharvari (special appearance). It was scheduled to release on Netflix on June 14.

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