Union Ministry’s OTT guidelines “lack teeth”, no provision for prosecution: SC on Tandav row

The apex court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that Amazon Prime Video India Head Aparna Purohit would not be arrested provided she cooperates with the probe
Union Ministry’s OTT guidelines “lack teeth”, no provision for prosecution: SC on Tandav row

The Supreme Court granted interim protection from arrest to Amazon Prime’s India Head Aparna Purohit in connection with the controversy over the platform’s original web series Tandav. The case was registered by Uttar Pradesh Police over alleged hurting of religious sentiments by the web series. The bench headed by Ashok Bhushan said that she would not be arrested provided she cooperates with the probe.

During the hearing, the bench observed that the new rules introduced by the Union Ministry to regulate OTT platforms “lack teeth” as there is no provision for prosecution or fine. The bench stated, “One issue is that Prime Video offers uncontrolled viewing of scenes. The Union of India has issued new rules in this regard. The rules are like guidelines with no effective regulation of screening or taking appropriate action. Rules don’t highlight anything regarding appropriate action that needs to be taken against those who don’t follow the guidelines. Solicitor General has submitted that steps will be initiated for the same and it shall be placed before the Court.” Following this, the Solicitor General informed the Court that it would soon produce a better draft of the rules for the court's consideration.

On Thursday, the Supreme Court directed that a screening committee be introduced to look into the content on OTT platforms including Netflix and Amazon Prime. The bench remarked thus while considering a petition lodged by Aparna Purohit challenging Allahabad High Court’s judgment, which denied pre-arrest bail to her in the criminal cases filed. On February 25, the Allahabad High Court had denied anticipatory bail to Commercial Head of Amazon Prime Video Aparna Purohit in connection with the ongoing probe.

Tandav, a political drama starring actors Saif Ali Khan, Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub and Dimple Kapadia, purportedly provides a commentary on India’s political scene under the Hindu nationalist government of Narendra Modi. Several members of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party have insisted that the government pull the series off-air or take out key scenes.

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