SC notice on plea to ban Mirzapur web series, set up pre-screening body for OTT
- The petition demanded an immediate ban on further screening of the web series and sought directions from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to set up a pre-screening committee for censoring content of similar web series, movies or other programmes release on OTT platforms.
The Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice on a petition seeking a ban on the popular web series ‘Mirzapur’ on Amazon Prime Video for its obscene, vulgar depiction of women and showing the city, otherwise famous for its rich cultural and historical value, as a city of goons, criminals and women indulging in adultery.
The petition filed by Sujeet Kumar Singh, a resident of Mirzapur district in Uttar Pradesh, said, “Showing such ridiculous and shameless things on a city or district is an insult to approximately 30 lakh population (residing in Mirzapur) and the rich culture of Mirzapur.” The web series Mirzapur was launched in 2018 by Excel Entertainment and due to its successful run, the second edition of the web series was launched in October 2020.
The petition demanded an immediate ban on further screening of the web series and sought directions from the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting to set up a pre-screening committee for censoring content of similar web series, movies or other programmes release on over the top (OTT) platforms. Further, no content should be released on the online streaming platforms without obtaining a certificate from the said authority, the petition added.
“The web series ‘Mirzapur’ is full with nudity, vulgarity, harsh and abusive language which is a violation of Cinematograph Act and Information Technology Act. It (web series) also violates Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act as it shows women as sex toys…. raises a finger on relation of daughter-in-law and father-in-law,” stated the petition drawn up by Rudra Vikram Singh. In this regard, the petition even sought action against Excel Entertainment, Amazon Prime Video and the actors in the web series for violating the above laws.
Quite contrary to what is being depicted, the petition highlighted the rich legacy of this district that once served among the biggest trading centres in northern India of the 17th century. This place is home to the famous Vindhyachal temple which is situated here River Ganga meets Vindhya Range and the red marbles of Mirzapur were used by Emperor Ashoka to make Ashok Stambh and Baudh Stup, the petition stated.
A three-judge bench headed by Chief Justice of India (CJI) SA Bobde issued notice on the petition. The petitioner informed the Court that the matter could be heard along with a separate PIL pending consideration before the Court where a demand has been raised to monitor and regulate content on the OTT platforms.
On this petition filed by two lawyers Shashank Shekhar Jha and Apurva Arhatia , the Court issued notice on October 15 last year. The petition had pointed out the legal loophole that allowed uncensored screening of movies or web series on OTT platforms. The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) certificate applies for movies meant for theatrical exhibition alone, it added.