Objections were raised about some scenes in Tandav as they allegedly were hurting religious sentiments and deriding Dalits
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday favoured the screening of programmes on over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Amazon Prime and Netflix while expressing concern over pornographic content.
“We are of the view that there should be some screening of such programs. At times they are showing pornography too,” said a bench comprising Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice R. Subhash Reddy.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for the Centre told the court, “They are showing filthy things with abuses, too.” The top court’s observation came in the course of the hearing of a plea by Aparna Purohit, the commercial head of Amazon Prime Video in India, seeking anticipatory bail in a case filed by the Uttar Pradesh government against the web series Tandav.
Ms Purohit has moved the top court against Allahabad high court’s order refusing her the anticipatory bail in the case.
Having expressed its displeasure over the way objectionable content, including pornography was being shown on OTT platforms without prior screening, the court asked Mr Mehta to place before it the recently notified Information Technology Rules, which provide for regulation of content on OTT platforms.
While senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi appearing for Ms Purohit, argued that it was about “freedom of speech and expression”, the bench countered that it was about “creating balance”.
Tandav, a political thriller starring Bollywood stars Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Zeeshan Ayyub, was launched as an Amazon exclusive in January and a few days after there was outrage, mainly in right-leaning states, about the story it told. Objections were also raised about some scenes that some alleged were hurting religious sentiments and that it was derogatory towards Dalits. Some cuts were demanded and those were made.
Unlike movies, which require the censor board’s clearance before release in the theatres, there is no control on the content of OTT platforms.
It was in the wake of this that the government framed stringent rules to regulate them and control content.