‘Hope you are taking it seriously’: Supreme Court asks Centre for response on PIL seeking regulation of OTT platforms

Published on Feb 16, 2021 01:35 PM IST
The petitioners had stated their aim was to protect the constitutional right to life, by preventing these platforms from abusing their freedom of expression.
The ruling came on a petition demanding a regulatory body to monitor content on OTT platforms. (Shutterstock Image )
The ruling came on a petition demanding a regulatory body to monitor content on OTT platforms. (Shutterstock Image )
By | Edited by Kanishka Sarkar

The Supreme Court on Tuesday asked the Centre to file its response to a PIL demanding a mechanism to monitor, manage and regulate content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

A three judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde asked the Centre to file an affidavit stating what it proposes to do on oath regarding the regulation of the online video streaming platforms.

The ruling came on a petition filed by one Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia who demanded that a regulatory body, headed by a secretary-level IAS officer, with members from varied fields including movie, cinematographic, media, defence forces, legal and education, be set up to monitor content on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar, among others. The petitioners had stated their aim was to protect the constitutional right to life, by preventing these platforms from abusing their freedom of expression.

The top court had issued a notice on this petition, filed against the Union of India, ministry of information and broadcasting and Internet and Mobile Association of India, on October 15 last year. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Centre, informed the bench that a related matter is pending before the court and if both matters are tagged, Centre may file a common response.

The bench, also comprising Justices AS Bopanna and V Ramasubramanian said, "We hope that you are taking this issue seriously" to which Mehta responded that the process is already underway. The apex court was even about to allow the petitioners to withdraw their petitions and move a representation to the government.

However, Additional Solicitor General KM Nataraj who appeared along with SG said, "to what extent we (Centre) can regulate is still under contemplation. Whether legislation is needed has not been finalised." The bench then asked the Centre to first put on affidavit what they propose to do.

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