HC asks parties to resolve dispute over release of Hansal Mehta’s Faraaz

New Delhi: Hearing a plea by the family members of the victims of a 2016 terrorist attack in Dhaka against the release of Hansal Mehta’s film which is said to be based on the incident, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the parties to sit together to resolve their differences.

The mothers of two victims of the Holey Artisan terrorist attack in Dhaka, Bangladesh objected to the slated release of the film, Faraaz’, on February 3 on the ground of invasion of privacy.

A bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and Talwant Singh, dealing with an appeal by the two women against a single judge order declining to stay the screening of the film, observed that the issue related to the “sentiments of a mother” and “there was no harm” if the parties sat together and resolved their differences. The court suggested screening the film for them.

“There is no harm in talking to them. We are not talking about rights. We are talking about the sentiments of a mother. Try and resolve this by putting your heads together,” said the bench.

The appellants had, before the single judge, sought to restrain the release of the film on the ground that it may depict their daughters in “bad light”, which would not only make them revisit their trauma but also violate the right to privacy of the deceased and cause defamation.

Senior counsel for the appellants told the court that the filmmakers have refused to show the movie to the family members of the two victims and, contrary to their stand before the single judge, the film showed the images of the deceased girls when it was screened in London.

The court observed that while nobody can profit from somebody else’s misery, it did not “know if the law permits us to injunct the release of a film”.

It said the film was based on an “unfortunate incident that happened in public eye” and not the confines of someone’s home.

Remarking that the filmmakers would not want the film to “remain in the can”, the court said showing it to the family may bring an end to their matter.

“Let them see the film. How does it matter? It will not have any consequence or affect the outcome of these proceedings. It will only alleviate their fears,” it said.

In October last year, a single judge had dismissed the appellant’s plea seeking an interim stay on the release of the film.

The single judge had observed that the right to privacy of the deceased is not inheritable by their mothers and the “disclaimer” in the film prima facie took care of their concerns.

While seeking an interim stay, the appellants had submitted there was a reasonable apprehension that it was created to show Faraaz Ayaaz Hossain as a “protagonist or something of the attack”, and if such depiction is made, it shall be completely false.

The filmmakers had stated that the incident was extensively covered in global media and there was material available in public domain revealing intricate details of the attack, including the identities of the victims, and the movie was a fictional work which depicted the attack with utmost sensitivity.

The matter will be heard next on January 24.

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