The Supreme Court has today refused to grant protection from coercive action against the director and producers of the Amazon web series ‘Tandav’.
The bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah, however, issued a notice in a petition filed by makers of ‘Tandav’ who sought the clubbing of FIRs lodged against them across the country and asked them to approach High Courts across the country for anticipatory bail.
The makers of the web series are facing criminal cases for hurting religious sentiments and insulting religion punishable under sections 153A and 295 of the Indian Penal Code.
Appearing for one of the petitioners, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi pointed out, “In Arnab Goswami case, it has been established that after a violation of Article 19(1)(a), we can move Supreme Court. Party is in Mumbai, how many states will they go and defend themselves in six states?”
“People get offended with anything and everything these days. Please protect us with no coercive steps. We deleted content without any protest. Scenes have been deleted. It’s a political satire,” Rohatgi added.
Explaining how the offenses alleged against them are baseless, the plea goes on to state,
“The episode if seen in totality would demonstrate that there is absolutely no element which promotes enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence language [S.153A], no imputation or assertion prejudicial to national integration [Section 153B], there is no injury or defilement of a place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class [S. 295], either deliberate or malicious [Section 295A], no ingredient is made out for forgery for purpose of harming reputation [Section 469] nor has any statement been made which is likely to cause, fear or alarm to the public or to any section whereby any person may be induced to commit an offense against the State or public tranquillity [Section 505(1)(b)]. Furthermore, the invocation of Section 66, 66F, 67 IT Act and Scheduled Castes & Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is patently absurd on the face of it.”
However, the three-judge bench observed, “Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of a character that hurts the sentiments of a community.”
The accused were granted pre-arrest bail on January 20 by the Bombay high court for a three-week period enabling them to obtain bail from Allahabad high court. The parties then approached Supreme Court seeking protection in all cases against them.