The Allahabad High Court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Amazon Prime Video’s India Content Head Aparna Purohit, in relation to a First Information Report on the case against the platform’s web series “Tandav”, Live Law reported.
The court also held that that the use of the word “Tandav” could offend majority of the people in the country as it was associated to Hindu deity Shiva, according to Bar and Bench.
A bench of Justice Siddharth further observed that several Hindi filmmakers have used the name of Hindu gods and goddesses and shown them in disrespectful manner. The judge cited names of movies like “Ram Teri Ganga Maili”, “Satyam Shivam Sundram”, “PK” and “OMG: Oh My God!”, to make his point, Live Law reported.
“Efforts have been made to subvert the image of historical and mythological personalities (Padmavati),” the court order stated. “Names and icons of faith of majority community have been used to earn money (“Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela”).”
The judge also referred to the recent case of stand-up comedian Munawar Faruqui, who was jailed in Madhya Pradesh’s Indore for a joke he never cracked. Despite the lack of concrete evidence, the bail pleas of Faruqui were rejected multiple, stating that their release will disrupt law and order. After spending more than a month in jail, the Supreme Court on February 5 granted him interim relief by noting that the allegations against him were vague.
“Munawar Faruqui, from Gujarat, made comments on Hindu god and goddesses in a new year show at Indore and gained undue publicity on being arrested in a case [and made] money in most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of country,” the judge said, while rejecting Purohit’s bail plea, Bar and Bench reported.
Purohit who has been booked under multiple charges, including Sections 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups), 295 (Defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion), 505(1)(b) (Public mischief), 505(2) (Statements promoting hatred between classes) of the Indian Penal Code, and those under the Information Technology Act, had filed a plea seeking anticipatory bail. On February 5, the Allahabad High Court had reserved the verdict and granted her interim protection from arrest.
Apart from her, the FIR filed in Lucknow also named director of “Tandav”, Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Mehra and writer Gaurav Solanki.
On January 27, the Supreme Court had refused to grant the makers and actors of the Amazon Prime web series protection from arrest. “Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute,” the court had said.
The web series purportedly provides a commentary on India’s political scene under the Narendra Modi government. The show touches upon farmer agitations to student protests to police killings – all events that have happened under the administration of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Apart from Uttar Pradesh, FIRs against the show were also filed Bihar, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka. At least three complaints are also pending in Delhi, Chandigarh and Maharashtra.