The Supreme Court on Thursday expressed the need for screening the content aired on over-the-top platforms such as Amazon and Netflix, and asked the Centre to submit new regulations for the same, Live Law reported.
A bench led by Justice Ashok Bhushan observed that “traditional film viewing” had now become obsolete. “Now watching movies on internet and OTT has become common,” the court said. “We are of the view there must be some screening. In fact, some platforms even show pornography.”
Justice Bhushan then asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to place before the bench the latest Information Technology regulations concerning OTT platforms.
Mehta, in his submission, said that the OTT platforms were showing “filthy things with abuses too”, PTI reported. He also agreed to place the new regulations on record.
The court was hearing a plea by India head of Amazon Prime Video Aparna Purohit, who has challenged the Allahabad High Court order denying her bail. The matter will be taken up again on Friday.
A first information report has been filed against Purohit in connection with the web series Tandav. Apart from her, the FIR filed in Lucknow also named director of Tandav, Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Mehra and writer Gaurav Solanki.
The Allahabad High High Court had rejected Purohit’s bail plea on February 25, saying that the use of the word “Tandav” could offend majority of the people in the country as it was associated with Hindu deity Shiva.
The Amazon Prime executive 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.
‘Purohit is just an employee’
During Friday’s hearing, senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit, told the Supreme Court that it was shocking to see that an employee of Amazon has been made an accused, along with the makers of the show, when the company Amazon Prime itself is not an accused in the case.
Purohit is just an employee of Amazon; she is neither a producer nor an actor, Rohtagi added, according to the Hindustan Times. Yet, Purohit has been made accused in around 10 cases related to Tandav, he said, adding that the case was about the freedom of speech and expression.
The advocate said that people who filed cases against the show were all publicity seekers. “Look at the FIR, look at what’s happening,” Rohtagi added. “If you want to watch this web series, you have to pay to see this.”
To this, the court observed that watching cinema on the internet was slowly becoming the common practice. “Our query is that these should be screened,” the court asked.
The matter will next be heard on Friday, according to PTI.