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'Maharaj' featuring Aamir Khan's son released on OTT after Gujarat High Court lifts stay

A set of followers of Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect, who claim themselves to be the devotees of Lord Krishna, had moved the high court against the release of the movie claiming that it was based on the controversial Libel Case of 1862.
Last Updated : 21 June 2024, 12:16 IST

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Ahmedabad: The Gujarat High Court on Friday while holding that the movie Maharaj prima facie doesn't have any objectionable material that would hurt the religious sentiments ordered that Netflix and Yashraj Film could release it. Soon after the order, Netflix released the movie for the viewers.

"Having viewed the film, this court found nothing objectionable that would hurt the religious feelings of the petitioners or a sect. The nature of the fear expressed by the petitioners is unfounded. The core message of the film focuses on social evil and the fight against the same by the social reformist Karsad Mulji, who himself was from Vaishnavite community," justice Sangeeta Vishen said while dictating the order.

"The film concludes by saying that a sect Is "far more important than any individual and incident. Treating this incident as an exception, the Vaishnavite community continued to grow and remained a proud and integral part of the social, cultural and religious fabric of India,' justice Vishen noted in her order.

The court also ordered to lift the stay which had held the release of the movie starring Junaid Khan, son of Amir Khan on over the top platform-Netflix.

A set of followers of Vaishnavite Pustimargi sect, who claim themselves to be the devotees of Lord Krisha, had moved the high court against the release of the movie claiming that it was based on the controversial “Libel Case of 1862”. 

This litigation filed by the then religious leader Jadunathji Brijratanji Maharaj against a journalist and social reformer Karsandas Mulji for publishing an article in the magazine "Satyaprakash" in the then Bombay city. The article wrote about the alleged "immoral practices of Jadunathji with the females of his sect." The British judges passed the judgement in favour of Mulji while expressing their opinion on "general practices of Maharajas" of the sect.


The petitioners said in the high court the judgement of the colonial judges contains "scandalous and defamatory language" against the Pustimargi sect as a whole. They said that "judgement was based on interpretation of Sanskrit verses after recording that the same is a dead language." 
The judgement recorded, according to the petitioners, that "the Maharajas i.e Acharyas of the sect undertake immoral practices. It also interpreted the devotional songs of Lord Krishna as being of amorous character and having a corrupting and licentious tendency where the subject of sexual intercourse is most prominent."

Earlier on Tuesday, appearing for Netflix senior counsel Mukul Rohagti opposed the petition stating, "We can't eradicate legal history whether we like the judgement or not. Picturisation of facts of legal history can't be restrained." Senior lawyer Jal Unwalla and Ketki Jha appeared for Netflix.  

The court also found the apprehensions of the petitioners that the release of the movie will lead to communal disharmony as unfounded. It said that a book based on the contentious judgement was published back in 2013 and the same is in public domain but no untoward incident has been reported till date, suggesting that publication of the book caused any disharmony. The court said that Netflix and Yashraj Films will be at liberty to release the movie whenever they want.

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Published 21 June 2024, 12:16 IST

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