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India’s top court rejects plea to stop world release of Padmavati

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NEW DELHI — India’s top court has rejected a legal attempt to block the global release of a Bollywood film ‘Padmavati’ which has sparked violent protests, warning against pre-judging the controversial historical epic.

Saying nobody should pre-judge the censors before the film is classified, a Supreme Court Bench, headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra on Tuesday, dismissed a fresh petition seeking an order to restrain the producers of Padmavati from releasing it abroad.

India’s caste-based groups have been staging violent demonstrations against Padmavati amid rumors that it will depict a romance between a Hindu queen and a Muslim ruler.

Speculation that the film will include a romantic liaison between Rajput queen Padmavati, also known as Rani Padmini, and the 13th and 14th century Muslim ruler Alauddin Khilji, had enraged activists from the historically Hindu warrior caste.

The epic was scheduled for release in India on December 1 but delayed indefinitely after the censor board refused to certify it.

“Responsible people in power and public office say certain things, and make comments on certain aspects, that violate the rule of law,” declared the bench.

“We are sure they will be guided by the basic premise under the rule of law and not venture outside.”

Lawyer M L Sharma also sought a direction to the CBI to register a case against film director Sanjay Leela Bhansali and others for various ‘offences’, including defamation and violation of the Cinematography Act.

“Grave damage would be done to social harmony if the movie is allowed to be released outside India”, the petitioner argued.

A number of officials, including state leaders from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ruling party, had vowed to ban screenings of the film in their jurisdictions unless controversial sections were removed.

The leader of a caste-related group also offered 50 million rupees ($769,000) to anyone who beheaded lead actress Deepika Padukone or director Sanjay Leela Bhansali.

In January protesters belonging to the Rajput Karni Sena caste-based group attacked Bhansali and vandalized the set during filming in Jaipur in Rajasthan.

Rajput Karni Sena accused the film’s makers of distorting historical facts. But some historians say the queen is a mythical character and there is no clear evidence that she even existed.

Lawyer Sharma, who brought the petition before the Supreme Court, had earlier failed to prevent the film’s release in India.

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PM congratulates Nepali national cricket team

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KATHMANDU— Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has congratulated Nepali national cricket team for being able to clinch the International T20 series.

PM Oli in a tweet extended best wishes and congratulations saying he was very happy to know Nepal’s win over the UAE by 14 runs in the third match of the series.

Winning T20 series is another landmark success for Nepali cricket, he said, adding, “It is big achievement for Nepal’s cricket. I would like to heartily congratulate entire members of Nepali cricket squad”.

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