Tandav row: HC denies anticipatory bail to Amazon Prime Video's commercial head

ByJItendra Sarin
Feb 25, 2021 09:51 PM IST

Aparna Purohit was accused of the inappropriate depiction of UP police personnel, Hindu deities and adverse portrayal of a character playing the PM.

The Allahabad High Court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail application of Amazon Prime Video's commercial head, Aparna Purohit, in the ongoing investigation against the web series 'Tandav'.

File photo: Amazon Prime Video's content chief Aparna Purohit.(Twitter/@aparna1502)
File photo: Amazon Prime Video's content chief Aparna Purohit.(Twitter/@aparna1502)

Purohit was accused of the inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh police personnel, Hindu deities and adverse portrayal of a character playing the prime minister in the web series.

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Justice Siddharth, while rejecting the application, said that though the applicant was earlier granted interim protection from arrest by another bench in a similar case, she was not cooperating with the investigation.

Petitioner's plea was that the web series was a work of fiction. There was no intention of the applicant to outrage the religious sentiments of any community.

The state government's counsel argued that a total of ten FIRs and four criminal complaints have been filed relating to the disputed web series across the country. It shows that merely one person is not affected by the conduct of the applicant rather several people across the country have felt that the web series is offensive and hence they lodged FIRs/complaints.

File photo: Bharat Bandh - What services are likely to be affected, what not

"It is not a stray case of some over-sensitive individual lodging the FIR against the applicant and other co-accused persons regarding objectionable character and content of the web series in dispute," added the counsel.

The court, after hearing the concerned parties, observed, "The basic philosophy of the Constitution is to permit the people of all faith to practice, profess and propagate their religion freely without hurting or acting against the people who profess or practice different religious faith than theirs. Therefore, it is an onerous duty of every citizen to respect the feelings of the people of other faith even while making a fiction".

Referring to certain scenes of the web-series, the court observed, "the scenes in dispute are likely to cause disturbance and threats to public order. The reference to Hindu Gods and Goddesses in the scenes in dispute in berating light cannot be justified."

The court then observed, "Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and still doing this most unabashedly with the Hindu Gods and Goddesses."

On the use of the names of Hindu deities, and disrespectfully showing them in Hindi movies, the court observed, "This tendency on the part of the Hindi film industry is growing and if not curbed in time, it may have disastrous consequences for the Indian social, religious and communal order. There appears to be a design behind such acts on the part of the people who just give a disclaimer in all the films and depict things in the movies which are really religiously, socially and communally offensive in nature. The young generation of the country, which is not much aware of the social and cultural heritage of this country, gradually starts believing what is shown in the movies by the people like the accused persons in the present movie in dispute and thereby, it destroys the basic concept of the survival of this country having tremendous diversity of all kinds as a united nation. The film industry in the south has not indulged in such acts like the Hindi film industry."

The court went on to take judicial notice of the fact that whenever such crimes (like the one at hand) are committed by some citizens of the country, "the forces inimical to the interest of this country become active and they make it an issue and raise it before different national and international forums alleging that Indian citizens have become intolerant and 'India' has become an unsafe place to live."

On January 19, an FIR was lodged on the complaint of one Balbir Azad of Raunija village under Rabupura police station of Greater Noida in Uttar Pradesh. In the complaint, Azad alleged that the series depicted Uttar Pradesh and its police in a bad light. The complaint further alleged that the series had deliberately denigrated Hindu deities.

The FIR further alleged that the web series in question depicted the Prime Minister of India as going against democratic norms and deliberate comments were used to disturb caste and communal amity. The makers of the series wanted to disturb the peace and tranquillity with the aim of making money, the complainant alleged.

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