A Delhi High Court judge on Friday recused from hearing a lawyer's plea seeking contempt proceedings against the makers of Deepika Padukone-starrer 'Chhapaak', saying he has worked with the petitioner-advocate. The petition was moved by advocate Aparna Bhat who had represented acid attack survivor Laxmi Agarwal on whose life the movie is based.
Bhat, in her plea, said the filmmakers had violated the high court's January 11 direction to give her credit for the inputs she shared with them. Justice A K Chawla said he and advocate Bhat had worked together when he was a lawyer and therefore, he would not be hearing the matter. He directed the registry to list the case before another bench for January 27.
Justice Prathiba M Singh had on January 11 directed the film's director Meghna Gulzar and producer Fox Star Studios to acknowledge the advocate in the opening credits by including the line "Inputs by Ms Aparna Bhat, the lawyer who represented Laxmi Agarwal, are acknowledged".
The lawyer has contended that the film was screened without complying with the direction and therefore, a contempt of court proceedings be initiated against the filmmakers. The January 11 order had come on a plea Fox Star Studios challenging a trial court's order asking it to acknowledge the contribution of the advocate.
The film was released on January 10, The high court had said that since the film has already been released, both internationally and in India, it should be ensured that there is no disruption in its screening. It was directed that the film will not be shown in theatres with effect from January 15 without adding the credit line for the advocate to the digital copies.
In theatres where physical copies of the film were to be supplied by the producer, the changes had to be carried out with effect from January 18, it had said. The film producer's advocate had said the trial court did not hear them before passing an order and an ad-interim ex-parte injunction was passed which is unusual.
The counsel for Bhat had said she had fought the case for Laxmi Agarwal pro-bono and was not seeking any publicity and she was approached by Gulzar to get some authenticity in the movie. He had said that Bhat's assistance was based on her communication with Gulzar that her contribution would be acknowledged.
Bhat, in her plea before the trial court, had said that despite representing Laxmi in courts for several years and helping in the making of the film, she was not given credit in the movie. She had said the filmmakers took her help in the entire process of writing and shooting the movie, but did not give her credit.