’Couples discussing Valentine’s Day plans in front of their single friends shall be charged with Abetment of Suicide.’
This is a ’verdict’ posted by the Bombay High Court. Not the official judicial body. But by a different Bombay High Court – a Facebook parody page (@2OFFICIAL4YOU), that boasts of 1.7lakh followers, with a minimum of 350 shares, and 10k likes on each of its posts. It’s important to note here that the page is just over a month old – it launched on December 13.
“There are a lot of parody pages on political figures and parties, but not on courts or authoritative organisations. It’s a potentially controversial position to be in,” says Kandivali-based Aakash Shah (21), the founder of the page.
Nevertheless, Shah, who works as a copywriter in an ad agency launched the page with his friend and editor of the page, Nikhil Ghatnekar (18). The first post they up, ’Calling Bombay, Mumbai, is punishable by death’ struck a chord. Overnight, the post had 50 shares and 1k likes. “That’s when I knew that people would like it. After that day, I haven’t given idea that I might get into trouble any thought,” he says.
What is remarkable about the page is the relatable issues it highlights – be it commenting on the serial rechristening of the city’s railway stations, to online trolls, and pop culture phenomenon such as Game of Thrones and Sherlock. Shah also, at times, slips in the hashtag, #AntiNational, to parody online fundamentalism.
Surely, though, the page’s comic approach to a judicial body wouldn’t have been positively received by all. Shah says he did get some flak, and was threatened with legal action. “A few lawyers said they’d file a contempt of court against us, because we were defaming the power of the court,” he says. But he didn’t take it lying down – Shah contacted his family lawyers, and did his own research about the legality of his actions. “I am not personally gaining anything out of this page. It’s a public entertainment platform, and I am legally allowed to be an entertainer,” he says.
Just under two months of its launch, the Bombay High Court page is ready to transition into a website – spoofcourt.com. The comedy elements, language and intention of the page will stay the same, says Shah. The website is an effort to move away from Facebook’s copyright and privacy limitations, and reach out to a larger audience.