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“There is porn too”- SC while supporting screening of OTT platform content

Supporting the need for a screening mechanism to be in place for checking the content that goes through digital platforms, OTTs, for audiences, the Supreme Court today stressed that “even pornographic material is being shown” on certain sites. As such, the top court told the government to furnish the list of guidelines formulated recently by the Centre for regulating social media platforms for screening programmes. 

The statement came amid the Tandav row where India chief of Amazon, Aparna Purohit, had challenged the Allahabad High Court’s order in the web series’ case. During the hearing, Justice Ashok Bhushan said, “Now watching movies on internet and OTT has become common. We are of the view there must be some screening.” 

“Traditional film viewing has become extinct. Now films and web series are viewed by the public on these platforms. There is pornography on some films”, he added. 

The bench further consisting of Justice R S Reddy, as well, said, “A balance has to be struck as some OTT platforms are also showing pornographic materials on their platforms.” 

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The next hearing is slated for Friday and the bench directed Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to present the recent guidelines of the Centre in the court that comprise of the regulation guidelines.  

On January 27th, the court had rejected the request of the series makers to grant them interim protection from any coercive action against them. The SC askethe 4 who submitted the request– Director Ali Abbas Zaffar, Aparna Purohit, producer Himanshu Mehra, the writer of the web show Gaurav Solanki and one of the lead actors Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub- to produce requests for bail in the respective courts that are associated with the FIRs registered against ‘Tandav’.  

However, the Allahabad High Court declined to give anticipatory bail to Ms Purohit according to its February 25th‘s order and she has now requested the SC against the same.  

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While displaying its strong criticism and perception of the web series to support its decision of rejecting the bail plea, the HC of Allahabad said, “such people make the revered figures of the religion of majority community source of earning money in a most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of the country.” 

Ms Purohit’s advocate, senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi argued in the court today that despite his client being an employee working for the platform and not the producer who owns the series to stream it on the OTT platform, over 10 cases have been lodged against her. He said the cases were “shocking” as Amazon Prime is like a cinema hall where people come to watch other movies, acting as a medium. 

Furthermore, the Uttar Pradesh Police had registered an FIR suo moto naming Amazon Prime’s top executive for showing the derogatory and objectionable depiction of Hindu Gods while also promoting religious enmity.  

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The web series in question, Tandav, took the OTT platform Amazon Prime for getting streamed since January 2021. It is a 9-episode series starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and some other critically acclaimed actors of the industry.  

 

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