Allahabad HC stays arrest of ‘Mirzapur’ makers Farhan Akhtar, Ritesh Sidhwani
Allahabad High Court on Friday stayed the arrest of producers of Mirzapur web series, Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani, in connection with the first information report (FIR) registered against them in Mirzapur district of Uttar Pradesh. However, the court directed the petitioners to offer full cooperation in the investigation while granting relief.
Hearing the writ petition filed by Akhtar and Sidhwani, a division bench comprising Justice Manoj Kumar Gupta and Justice Subhash Chand also issued a notice to the state government and the complainant in the matter seeking their respective replies in counter-affidavits. The court has listed this case in the first week of March 2021.
The FIR was registered against Akhtar and Sidhwani and they were accused of the improper and indecent portrayal of the town of Mirzapur and outraging religious beliefs. The two run a production company and are producers of the web series. Akhtar and Sidhwani have been accused of hurting the religious, social and regional sentiments of the first informant and being instrumental in advancing ill feelings and animosity.
The FIR was registered against the petitioners under section 295-A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs) and other sections of IPC and 67-A of Information Technology Act.
Voicing his discontentment with the web series, the complainant said that such shows must be produced by such a big production house after due deliberations. The complainant alleged that the show has impacted society so much that his friends have started calling him 'Kaaleen Bhaiya', the main protagonist in the said web series.
The counsels for Akhtar and Sidhwani argued that even if all the allegations in the FIR were taken to be correct, no offence was made out against the petitioners. They were represented by senior advocate GS Chaturvedi and senior advocate Manish Tiwari and were assisted by advocate Syed Imran Ibrahim. They said there was no allegation that the web series was produced with any deliberate or malicious intention of outraging the religious and social feelings of the citizens of India or to insult the religious and social feelings of the people of any particular class.
Reasoning why no action should be taken against the makers, the counsels said that the web series was a work of fiction and that every act which tantamounts to insult or attempts to insult the religious feelings of any class of citizens would not come within the purview of IPC's Section 295-A unless the said act was perpetrated with the deliberate and malicious intention of outraging the religious feelings of that class of citizens.
The state counsel submitted that there was a specific allegation that the web series had hurt the social and religious feelings of the first informant. He also alleged that the web series promotes illicit relationships and incites religious disharmony.