An Allahabad High Court’s single-judge bench has rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by Aparna Purohit, a top Amazon executive in India, who had an FIR registered against her by the Uttar Pradesh police over the Amazon web series Tandav. She has been accused of promoting religious enmity.
In a 20-page order, Justice Siddharth made extreme observations while rejecting Purohit’s bail application saying, "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."
The court also said that the use of the word “Tandav” as name of the series can be offensive, as associated with a particular act assigned to Lord Shiva.
Further, it was noted that the scenes filmed in the series intentionally used "the names of Hindu Gods and sage to convey an insidious message."
However, Purohit has received interim protection from another bench in a similar case.
What Does the Order Say?
In his order, Justice Siddharth said that Purohit’s intentions to outrage religious feelings were deliberate and malicious, which would attract the offence under Section 153-A of the Indian Penal Code (promoting enmity between different groups.)
However, the Amazon executive has said that the series is a work of fiction and was not intended to hurt any community’s feelings, according to a report by Hindustan Times.
The court also observed that the submission of an apology or withdrawal of these scenes after they streaming would not absolve the accused persons of the offence.
The court looked over the contentious scene in the series and noted that “esteemed and revered characters of the faith of the majority community of India have been lampooned and portrayed in a very cheap and objectionable way."
The judge further compared Purohit’s case and Indian digital media with the west, saying, "Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet, but Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and is still doing this most unabashedly with Hindu Gods and Goddesses.”
The court made noted remarks on public protests against such judgements, saying that,
“The forces inimical to the interest of this country become active and they make it an issue and raise it before different national and international forums alleging that the Indian citizens have become intolerant and India has become unsafe.”
Highlighting that disapproval of ‘such acts’ is ‘not a mark of any intolerance in the country’, the judge added, “the applicant had not been vigilant and has acted irresponsibly making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting streaming of a movie, which is against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country and therefore, her fundamental right of life and liberty cannot be protected by grant of anticipatory bail to her in the exercise of discretionary powers of this court."
Purohit’s Case So Far
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 fled 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.
In the Lucknow case, which was filed by Additional Inspector, Hazratganj, Amarnath Verma, on 18 January, Tandav director Ali Abbas, producer Himanshu Krishna Mehar, and writer Gaurav Solanki are also included.
On Tuesday, 23 February, Purohit had recorded her statement at the direction of the Allahabad High Court.
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 Hindustan Times)