In a relief to the makers of Vir Das’ latest web series “Hasmukh”, the Delhi High Court on Tuesday refused to grant an interim stay on the streaming of the show on the OTT platform Netflix.
The stay had been sought after allegations that the show makes disparaging comments against lawyers, particularly in episode four of season one of Vir’s show, titled “Bambai Main Bambu”.
“The very essence of democracy is that a creative artist is given the liberty to project the picture of the society in a manner he perceives. One of the prime forms of exposing the ills of the society is by portraying a satirical picture of the same,” said a single-judge bench of the High Court presided by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva.
“Stand-up comedians perform that very purpose. In their portrayal they use satire and exaggerate the ills to an extent that it becomes a ridicule. In the humorous portrayal of the ills of the society the stand-up comedians use satire,” the bench observed.
While dismissing the application, the court stated that the “plaintiff has not been able to show that the impugned comment in any manner refers to the plaintiff or refers to a definite group of individuals or lawyers out of the entire class of lawyers to which the plaintiff belongs”.
The plea filed by Advocate Ashutosh Dubey sought the court’s directions to the web series producers, directors and writer to tender unconditional apology online, saying that the web series had “maligned the image of the lawyers’ community, which includes judges as they too had been lawyers at one point of time”.
The plea further read: “The said remarks have caused utmost damage to legal profession and impugn the image of lawyers in the eyes of millions of viewers/ subscribers who visit the streaming website where the show is being streamed.”
The plea also sought deletion or removal of certain objectionable content from the series, especially from season one, episode four.
The plea alleged that in the said episode, the makers of Vir’s Hasmukh have alleged lawyers to be “thieves, scoundrels, goons and have had the indecency to address, lawyers as rapists”.
Advocate Priyanka Khimani, who represented the defendant in the case, seemed extremely happy and welcomes the court’s decision.
“This is a welcome decision that reinforces artistic and cinematic freedom of speech and expression, without which the world of storytelling would not survive. The content universe today thrives on its ability to express and communicate freely, as it rightly should in any free-thinking and free-speaking nation. So this decision is a gentle reminder of the fact that that freedom and ability are still, very much, intact,” Khimani said.
Thanking the court, Vir shared a post on Instagram that read, “A statement of thanks to the High Court.”
Apart from Vir Da, Hasmukh also stars Ranvir Shorey, Manoj Pahwa, Ravi Kishan and Amrita Bagchi.