The alleged use of foul language in the controversial reality TV show Rakhi ka Insaaf has come in for sharp criticism from the Allahabad High Court while granting a stay on arrest of its anchor and actor Rakhi Sawant for abetment to suicide.
A Division Bench of justices Imtiyaz Murtaza and Ram Autar Singh had on Friday stayed Sawant's arrest in connection with an FIR lodged at Uttar Pradesh's Jhansi district, where a local resident Laxman had died weeks after taking part in her TV show where she allegedly called him "naamard" (impotent) in full public view.
Medical reports of the hospital, where Laxman died a few days after having given up taking food, described his condition as "tension-stricken" following which his mother Savitri Devi lodged the FIR accusing Sawant of abetment to suicide.
The court stayed Sawant's arrest and asked the state government to file a counter affidavit within four weeks, observing "in the instant case there was no suicide note left behind by the deceased nor is there anything on record to show that the deceased committed suicide".
However, the court disapproved of the submission made by senior advocate Gopal Chaturvedi, who appeared on behalf of Sawant, that all the participants, including the deceased, "voluntarily agreed to subject themselves to questions being asked in the reality show and further agreed to have the programme recorded with the various questions and answers that they were being subjected to".
Reacting to the submission, the court said, "Here we would not flinch from mentioning that agreeing to be subjected any questions and answers does not include using derogatory language and calling a person impotent.
"Even if it be believed that the intent of the show was to allow the parties to give vent to pent up feelings, it was not permissible for the anchor to have used unpalatable and offensive words like 'naamard' as alleged in the FIR.
"The words used by the anchor, calling the deceased impotent (naamard) in the show are highly raunchy, offensive, uncivil and against all tenets of ethical norms.
"The show, we feel, should not transcend the bounds of ethical value with due sensitivity to the society at large which forms the viewership of such shows and also with due regard to the creed and culture of our society."
The court also expressed the view that "it was high time the government stepped in and ensured that such programmes which are unpalatable and offensive to individual self-esteem and self-respect, are not allowed to be telecast".