Screening of OTT Content Needed; Some Show Porn: SC on Tandav FIR

Aparna Purohit had challenged the Allahabad High Court order cancelling her anticipatory bail plea.

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Multiple complaints have been filed against the makers of web series <i>Tandav</i> for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.

On Thursday, 4 March, the Supreme Court adjourned the bail hearing of Amazon Prime Video's India chief Aparna Purohit to Friday (5 March). Purohit had challenged the Allahabad High Court order cancelling her anticipatory bail plea.

The Uttar Pradesh Police had filed FIRs against Purohit over the web series Tandav. Purohit has been accused of greenlighting the series that allegedly depicted the Uttar Pradesh police personnel and Hindu deities inappropriately and adversely portrayed a character playing the Prime Minister.

While hearing the matter the Supreme Court observed, "We are of the view that some screening of OTT content should take place". The bench also remarked, "In fact, some platforms even show pornography".

The bench asked Solicitor-General Tushar Mehta to circulate the new Information Technology Rules, 2021, that were notified last week.

The Hearing

Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi described the case filed against Purohit as "shocking", stating that publicity seekers across the country were filing such complaints.

To which Justice Ashok Bhushan replied, "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."

Tushar Mehta added, "They are showing filthy things with abuses too."

Arguing on this, Rohatgi said that the Allahabad High Court order rejecting Purohit's bail plea was not based on the Centre's newly notified OTT regulations. He also said that it's about the freedom of speech.

The court then observed, "It's about creating balance".

Earlier while rejecting Purohit's anticipatory bail plea Justice Siddharth had said, "The conduct of the applicant shows that she has scant respect for the law of the land and her conduct further disentitles her to any relief from this court."

Purohit’s Case

The Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an FIR against Purohit for defiling places of worship, hurting religious sentiments and promoting religious enmity through the series. In another case filed by Lucknow police, the Amazon executive got protection from arrest, and a different judge in the Allahabad High Court extended that protection till 9 March, three days ago, NDTV reported.

The web show Tandav led to protests across the country over alleged objectionable scenes, and was criticised for showing UP Police in a bad light.

(With inputs from Bar and Bench)

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