Tandav case: SC grants interim protection from arrest to Amazon Prime India head Aparna Purohit

The bench also said that the Centre's regulations on social media are mere guidelines and that does not have provision for action against digital platforms.

The Supreme Court, which favoured “screening” of content aired on over-the-top (OTT) media platforms on Thursday, granted interim protection from arrest to Amazon Prime Video’s India head Aparna Purohit in the FIR registered by the Uttar Pradesh police over alleged hurting of religious sentiments by the web series ‘Tandav’ on Friday.

During the hearing, a bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy observed that the protection from arrest will be subject to the petitioner cooperating with the investigation and appearing before the police as and when summoned, according to Live Law.

The top court also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on Purohit’s plea for an anticipatory bail in the case and asked Purohit to co-operate in the ongoing investigation.

The bench also said that the Centre’s regulations on social media are mere guidelines and that does not have provision for action against digital platforms. “Law has to be framed to put in place a mechanism to control OTT platforms instead of mere guidelines. The new guidelines of the government on regulating OTT platforms like Netflix & Amazon Prime Vidoe has ‘no teeth’ as there is no provision of prosecution,” the bench said.

On Thursday, the apex court had asked the Centre to produce the recently-notified guidelines for such services.

“Traditional film viewing has become obsolete. People watching films on these platforms has become common. Should there not be some screening? We feel there should be some screening… At times they are showing pornography too,” Justice Ashok Bhushan had observed. The court was hearing a plea by Purohit challenging the Allahabad High Court order denying her anticipatory bail in connection with FIRs lodged over the Tandav web series.

The Allahabad High Court had on February 25 rejected Purohit’s plea stating that “the fact remains that 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”.

“The irresponsible conduct against the inherent mandate of the Constitution of India by anyone affecting the fundamental rights of the large number of citizens cannot be acquiesced to only because of the tendering of unconditional apology after committing the alleged act of crime and indiscretion,” said the order. It said the reference to the disclaimer about the show being fictional “cannot be considered to be a ground for absolving the applicant of permitting the streaming of an objectionable movie online”.

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