'Tandav' case: SC protects Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit from arrest

A Bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan says Centre's guidelines ineffective in checking pornographic content on OTT platforms

'Tandav' case: SC protects Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit from arrest

File photo.

Satya Prakash

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, March 5

The Supreme Court on Friday protected from arrest Amazon Prime Video India head Aparna Purohit who is facing criminal charges for alleged inappropriate depiction of UP Police personnel, Hindu deities and an adverse portrayal of a character playing the prime minister in controversial web series 'Tandav'.

While protecting Purohit from arrest and other coercive action, a Bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan asked her to co-operate with the investigation.

After perusing the latest regulations notified by the Centre, it said the guidelines were ineffective in checking pornographic content on OTT platforms.

"We went through the Technology intermediary guidelines. But there is no teeth. No power of prosecution. These are just guidelines. No mechanism to control it. Without legislation you can't control it," the Bench noted.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta told the court that a fresh legislation was under consideration.

Expressing concern over pornographic content on some over-the-top (OTT) platforms, the Supreme Court had on Thursday said there should be a mechanism to screen such programmes.

It had asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place before it on Friday the recent guidelines issued by the Centre to regulate social media platforms.

Last week, the Centre had notified Information Technology (Guidelines for intermediaries and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 (IT Rules, 2021) to regulate the functioning of online media portals and publishers, OTT platforms and social media intermediaries.

“A balance has to be struck as some OTT platforms are also showing pornographic materials on their platforms,” the Bench had said.

On behalf of Purohit, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi had argued that she was neither a producer nor an actor but still she had been made an accused in around 10 cases across India in relation to Tandav -- a nine-episode political thriller starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub – that started streaming recently.

The Supreme Court on January 27 refused to grant interim protection from arrest to the director, producer, writer and actor of web series 'Tandav' who faced multiple cases of allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus in six states.

It had also dismissed their pleas for quashing of the FIRs, saying, "You can’t play a role hurting religious sentiments of others." The right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution was not absolute, it had noted.

The Bench had, however, issued notices on their petitions for clubbing of all the FIRs and them to one place.

The 'Tandav' team members were booked for gate speech and hurting religious sentiments of Hindus under Sections 153-A, 295, 505(1)(b), 505(2) and 469 of IPC and certain provisions of the Information Technology Act.

The top court had on October 15 last year issued notice to the Centre on a PIL seeking setting up of an autonomous body to regulate OTT platforms which provide paid film and television content to consumers via a high-speed Internet connection.

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