The Gujarat High Court here today adjourned the hearing on a plea filed by Bollywood actor-producer Aamir Khan and four others in a case of alleged filming of Chinkara, an endangered species, in their movie ‘Lagaan’.
Justice R D Kothari today adjourned the hearing as the state government sought time for further representation on the plea and scheduled the case for August 9. The High Court had on June 27 initiated final hearing on the actor’s plea filed in April 2008, which sought to quash the proceedings initiated by the judicial magistrate of Bhuj district against Khan and four others for alleged breach of the Wildlife (Protection) Act.
Under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, commercial filming of chinkara without permission is illegal. The forest department filed the complaint against Khan and others for allegedly filming Chinkara in the movie ‘Lagaan’, shooting for which was held mostly in Kutch in 2000.
As per the complaint, Chinkara’s footage was taken without the prior permission of the Forest Department. The judicial magistrate of Bhuj in March 2008 issued bailable warrants against Khan, his former wife Reena Dutta, director Ashutosh Gowarikar, executive director Srinivas Rao and cinematographer Ashok Mehta. Khan and four others then secured a stay from the High Court on the warrants.
The actor’s lawyer had contended that the computer- generated images of the animal were used in the film, and not the shots of a real animal. A real chinkara was never filmed as the permission for it was denied. They had also contended that the forest department had obtained warrants against them in 2008 without hearing their side.
The forest department had closed the matter after conducting a preliminary inquiry. The department had to reopen the case after a fresh complaint was filed by Amit Jetha, a RTI activist who was shot dead later in 2010. PTI