The Supreme Court while hearing on the anticipatory bail plea filed by India head of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit in the case registered against her in connection with the web series ‘Tandav’ spoke about more control on the over-the-top (OTT) platformslike Amazon Prime and Netflix.
There should be a mechanism to screen such programmes, the top court said as it directed the centre to place before it the recent guidelines of the government to regulate social media platforms.
At the outset of today’s hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi described the case filed against Purohit as “shocking”, stating that publicity seekers around the country were filing such complaints.
Justice Ashok Bhushan said to Rohatgi,- “Please submit the regulations on OTT platforms. We are of the view that there should be some screening of such programs. At times they are showing pornography too.”
Agreeing with the Court’s observation, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta added,- “They are showing filthy things with abuses too.”
Rohatgi then submitted that the Allahabad High Court order rejecting Purohit’s bail plea was not based on the Centre’s newly notified OTT regulations.
“It’s about freedom of speech and expression,” Rohatgi said.
The Court replied,- “It’s about creating balance.”
Despite Rohatgi’s protestations that the OTT regulations were not applicable in this case, the Court adjourned the matter to tomorrow.
SG Mehta was asked to submit and circulate the Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021, which provides for the regulation of content on OTT platforms.
Purohit had approached the High Court after a First Information Report (FIR) was filed against her by the Uttar Pradesh Police for offences under Sections 153A (promoting enmity between different groups), 295 (defiling place of worship), 295A (hurting religious sentiments), 505(1)(b), 505(2) (statements conducive to public mischief) of Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Sections 66 and 67 of the Information Technology Act based on the Amazon Prime series Tandav.
The High Court had also opined that there is an onerous duty on every citizen to respect the feelings of the people of other faiths even while making a work of fiction.
The High Court was also critical of the Bollywood film industry stating that while Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet, Hindi filmmakers have done this “repeatedly and unabashedly with Hindu Gods and Goddesses.”
Tandav, a nine-episode political thriller starring Bollywood A-listers Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, started streaming in January this year on the Amazon Prime OTT platform.