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Gangubai Kathiawadi defamation case: Mumbai High court summons Alia, Sanjay Leela Bhansali

Published On: 25 March 2021 | Bollywood | By:

Gangubai Kathiawadi defamation case: Mumbai High court summons Alia, Sanjay Leela Bhansali
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Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and two writers have been summoned by a Mumbai court regarding a criminal defamation case filed by Babu Ravji Shah for the film Gangubai Kathiawadi. Babu Ravji Shah claims to be Gangubai's adopted son.

An additional chief metropolitan magistrate court in Mumbai has issued summons to actress Alia Bhatt, filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali and two writers regarding a criminal defamation case connected to the upcoming film Gangubai Kathiawadi. They have been asked to present themselves before the court on May 21. While Sanjay is the director of the film, Alia is playing the titular role in the film. The defamation case has been filed by Babu Ravji Shah, who claims to be the adopted son of Gangubai Kathiawadi. The film is based on a chapter of Hussain Zaidi's book, Mafia Queens of Mumbai.

Babu Ravji Shah claims that the chapter on Gangubai Kathiawadi in the book was defamatory, tarnished her reputation and infringed upon the right to privacy and self-respect of his deceased mother. The film by Sanjay Leela Bhansali, in which Gangubai's role is played by Alia Bhatt, is based on the book and thus the defamatory suit is filed against the filmmaker as well as the actress.

Shah had earlier approached a Mumbai civil court with a civil suit which was dismissed. In the suit, Shah had sought a restraining order against the book author from publishing the book and had asked the film and it's promos and trailers not to be aired.

The court had held that the suit is barred by limitation since the book was published in 2011 and the suit was filed only in December 2020. Shah had also not submitted any proof to substantiate his claim that he is the adopted son of Kathiawadi, nor showed any evidence as to how the legal requirements of adoption were complied with. The filmmaker and the writers had also pointed to the court that Shah had failed to join the other family members who he claimed to have been wronged due to the contents in the book.

After the suit was dismissed, Shah filed a plea for criminal action to be initiated against the writers and filmmaker for defaming the family. Shah claimed that the film is not based on facts and defamed the family.

The court noted that allegations levelled by Shah disclose the effects of the film's promo on him and his extended family. He had further relied on the copy of the complaint which he had filed at Nagpada police station on December 11, 2020. 

The magistrate court noted that prima facie it shows that the complainant and his family are suffering from mental agony due to the book and the film's trailer. The court said that it seems that the complainant has issued notice to all accused, however except for one of the accused, others failed to reply. The court after looking through the complaint said that prima facie the complainant has made sufficient grounds to proceed further against all the accused of offences punishable under section 500, 501 and 502 read with 34 of the Indian Penal Code. Hence, the court issued a process against all the accused.

After going through Shah's complaint, the magistrate court issued summons to Alia Bhatt, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and the writers. They need to present themselves before the court on May 21.

Gangubai Kathiawadi is scheduled to release on July 30. Apart from Alia Bhatt, the film also stars Ajay Devgn in a pivotal role.

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