The FIR order, issued by a magistrate’s court in Mumbai, came after various right-wing groups and social activists took offence at the jokes shared between comedians and a clutch of Bollywood celebrities at the AIB Roast, a closed, ticketed event held at the National Sports Club of India in Mumbai on January 20. Edited videos of the Roast went viral on YouTube at the end of January.
The FIR books 14 people under various charges of obscenity. The list includes AIB event organisers, NSCI president Jayantilal Shah, NSCI secretary general Ravinder Aggarwal and event participants Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya, Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhatt, Aditi Mittal, Rajeev Masand, Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor.
Two Bollywood actors sitting in the audience were also named as the accused in the FIR – Alia Bhatt and Deepika Padukone. But Sonakshi Sinha, the third prominent actor who was also in the audience and had been included in several jokes during the Roast, has been conspicuously left out.
Sonakshi Sinha is the daughter of actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, who is currently with the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party. He was appointed the head of the BJP’s culture and arts department in 2006. Last month, Prime Minister Modi was a guest at the wedding of Sinha’s son Kussh.
While more names are likely to be brought in when the investigation into the AIB Roast is initiated, Twitter users wasted no time in pointing out Sonakshi’s absence from the FIR.
Mumbai HC orders FIR against #AIB Roast, Karan Johar, Arjun, Ranvir, Deepika and Alia but not Sonakshi Sinha. What logic? Her last name?
— Nikita (@Nikitaism) February 12, 2015
I'm totally against the FIR against #AIB but it is curious how Sonakshi (an MPs child) escaped while others like Alia n Deepika got named.
— Dr Roshan R (@pythoroshan) February 13, 2015
Teesta:Check AIB FIR minus Sonakshi:Check Police Officers reinstatement:Check Mandir Inauguration:Check #swineflu death : Woh kya hota hai
— MSGConsciousness (@DyingConsciousn) February 13, 2015
Filmmaker Mahesh Bhatt, whose daughter Alia is listed as an accused, also pointed out the obvious discrepancy, claiming Sonakshi Sinha was left out because she is the "daughter of a person who is part of the present dispensation".
On her part, Sonakshi Sinha said in a series of tweets to Mahesh Bhatt that she had been listed in FIRs filed in other places such as Delhi and Kolkata, even as Aliya Bhatt's name was not. She added that her father had not intervened in those cases.
Dear Mr.@MaheshNBhatt, a couple of pointless FIR's have been filed before this (delhi and kol if im not mistaken, in which my name was (1/4)— Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 13, 2015
Mentioned and Alia's wasnt. I don't remember my father questioning them as to how or why so. I do agree with u however, if these FIR's (2/4)— Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 13, 2015
Are filed on 2-3 members of the audience, why not the other 3,998. Lets not give these ppl the attention they so desperately seek, (3/4)— Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 13, 2015
And as far as my memeory serves me, nobody EVER went to jail for laughing. (4/4)— Sonakshi Sinha (@sonakshisinha) February 13, 2015
The list of acts and sections invoked against the 14 accused is long: they include sections under the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy for putting up a vulgar and pornographic public performance that was pre-scripted and speaking vulgar, obscene and pornographic words in front of a large number of women), the Information Technology Act (putting the said show on the internet) and the Bombay Police Act (holding a vulgar public performance against the rules banning such shows).
More noticeably, they have also been charged under the Environment Protection Act for illegally using land in the Coastal Regulation Zone area for commercial purposes and Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, for using a space meant for sports events to put up a commercial, vulgar show.