Tandav controversy: SC grants interim protection to Amazon India content head

The top court has also sought new OTT draft rules from the Centre to regulate content, as it currently “lacks teeth”

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The Supreme Court has granted interim protection from arrest to Amazon Prime Video’s India head Aparna Purohit in connection with the FIR registered by Uttar Pradesh Police over allegedly hurting religious sentiments through a web show, reported LiveLaw.

The Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy observed that the protection from arrest will be subject to the petitioner cooperating with the investigation and appearing before the police as and when summoned.

OTT Rules

The Supreme Court Bench also expressed dissatisfaction about the new rules framed by the Union Government to regulate OTT platforms. Justice Bhushan told the Solicitor General that the new rules “lack teeth” as there is no provision for prosecution or fine. Justice Bhushan opined that without proper legislation, effective action cannot be taken, tweeted LiveLaw.

To this, the Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted that the government will prepare a draft law and submit before court for consideration, reported Bar & Bench. As the court is set to consider new OTT rules, it impleaded the Central Government as a party.

LiveLaw quoted the Bench observing orally, “One issue that has cropped up is uncontrolled viewing of scenes in Prime Video. Union of India has issued notified new Rules in this regard. The Rules are in the nature of guidelines with no effective regulation of screening or taking appropriate action. Rules don’t list anything about appropriate action to be taken against those who don’t abide by the guidelines. The Solicitor General has submitted that steps will be taken for the same and it shall be placed before the Court.”

On March 4, according to a report in The Leaflet, the Supreme Court had observed that there should be some screening of shows run on Over-the-top (OTT) platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video. Justice Ashok Bhushan had also reportedly added that some web series indulge in pornography. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Uttar Pradesh Government agreed with the Bench and said “filthy abuses are shown”.

The case

Aparna Purohit, who has now been granted interim protection, had multiple FIRs registered against her for greenlighting Tandav, a web show that allegedly depicted Hindu deities in a derogatory fashion.

On February 25, the Allahabad High Court had rejected her anticipatory bail plea, holding that the sentiments of the majority community were hurt. Justice Siddharth said that apologising or withdrawing scenes from the series would not absolve the accused persons of the offence committed by them.

The court had also observed that there appears to be a design behind such acts where disclaimers are given and religiously, socially and communally offensive content is portrayed. It added that the young generation starts believing what is shown in the movies by the people like the accused persons, and it destroys the basic concept of the survival of this country having tremendous diversity as a united nation.


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