The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed displeasure on the streaming of films on web platforms without any prior screening of the content and also cited some films having pornographic content.
The observation was made by the top court during the hearing of a plea by Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit against Allahabad High Court order, which declined to entertain her anticipatory bail in connection with the FIRs lodged against her over the web series Tandav.
A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said: “There should be some screening (of content on web platforms). There is pornography in some films.”
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Uttar Pradesh government, said some programs have filthy abuses.
Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Aparna Purohit, contended this “as a matter of free speech” and cited that his client is not the producer of the show, instead an employee of the company which is streaming the web series Tandav.
Justice Bhushan replied that a balance needs to be struck in such matters and reiterated there should be some screening by somebody.
The top court indicated that there should be a body like a censor board that screens the films.
A counsel in the matter informed the top court that the government has recently notified OTT guidelines. The top court scheduled the matter for further hearing on Friday.
In January, the top court refused to grant interim protection to the Tandav crew from any coercive action and had asked them to move the concerned courts to seek bail in the matter.
Aparna Purohit has been accused of an inappropriate depiction of Hindu deities, Uttar Pradesh Police personnel and for adverse portrayal of a character in the role of prime minister in the web series.
On February 25, the Allahabad High Court declined to grant her anticipatory bail in the matter. The high court had observed, “Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and are still doing this most unabashedly with Hindu gods and goddesses”.
One Balbir Azad lodged an FIR on January 19, 2021, at Rabupura police station of Greater Noida.
Azad had alleged that the web series had deliberately denigrated Hindu gods and goddesses and depicted Uttar Pradesh and its police in a poor light.
Several other FIRs have also been lodged in states like Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar and Delhi against the web series. ‘Tandav’, a nine-episode political thriller starring Bollywood A-listers Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, started streaming recently on Amazon.
The top court on Friday saying will see the new OTT guidelines issued by the Centre.