The Delhi High Court on August 8, 2019, said that the release of John Abraham starrer 'Batla House' would be put on hold if it is found that the film has the "propensity to affect" the ongoing proceedings against the accused in the encounter operation conducted in September 2008 in Batla House locality in Jamia Nagar, Delhi.
A Single Judge Bench of JusticeVibhu Bakhru was hearing a petition filed by the two accused persons, Ariz Khan and Shehzad Ahmed seeking to postpone the release of the film till the trial against them is pending.
While the trial against Ariz Khan is pending before a Delhi Court, Shehzad Ahmed's appeal against his conviction is pending before the Delhi High Court.
After watching the film earlier this week, the petitioners’ claimed that the makers of the film "willfully and deliberately" ignored the pending legal processes and portrayed definitive account and findings surrounding the Batla House encounter.
They submitted that although the courts discharge their duty in a fair and free manner and are not likely to be influenced by a movie but when a movie claims to be "inspired by true events", its release is likely to cause prejudice to the trial and appeal.
Further, it was also claimed that not only is the movie based on the chargesheet filed in the case, it also rebuts the arguments and version put forth by the defence.
"The prosecution version is being beamed at people... even if he (the petitioner) is acquitted, people will think that it's because they were powerful people."
Arguing that there is complete "destruction of presumption of innocence", the petitioners stated that the facts that are to be established in a trial are conclusively being shown in the film.
On the other hand, the Producer of the movie stated before the court that although the film was based on the chargehseet submitted in the case, there was nothing in the film to suggest that it was the petitioners who were being shown as the accused/terrorists.
The court, however, pointed out that the name of one of the petitioners was on the poster of the film. In response, it was stated that the poster has now been changed. The court then clarified that if the film is found to have the propensity to affect the trial, it will have to be put on hold.
The court has set the date for next hearing on August 13, 2019, directing the petitioners to submit a note articulating their objections against the film.