The Allahabad High Court has on Thursday denied anticipatory bail to the content chief of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, in the ongoing investigation against the web series ‘Tandav’.
While rejecting the application, a single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth 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.
Earlier, the Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an FIR against the top Amazon Prime executive for a derogatory depiction of Hindu deities and promoting religious enmity through its series ‘Tandav’.
While the petitioner said that the web series was a work of fiction and was not intended to hurt any community’s feelings, the counsel for the state government said that a total of 10 FIRs and 4 criminal complaints had been filed in the case, showing that many people were affected by the conduct of Purohit.
“It shows merely one person is not affected by the conduct of the applicant, rather, a number of persons across the country have felt that the web series is offensive and hence, they have lodged FIRs/complaints. 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,” stated the state government counsel.
Meanwhile, the single-judge bench of HC noted, “Western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and are still doing this most unabashedly with Hindu gods and goddesses.”
The court listed some movies “which have used the name of Hindu gods and goddesses and shown them in a disrespectful manner”, such as Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Satyam Shivam Sundram, PK, and Oh My God.
“Not only this, efforts have been made to subvert the image of historical and mythological personalities as in Padmavati. The names and icons of faith of the majority community have been used to earn money (Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela),” the court said.
The court observed, “The fact remains that the applicant had not been vigilant and has acted irresponsibly making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting streaming of a movie which is against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country.”
“Therefore, her fundamental right of life and liberty cannot be protected by a grant of anticipatory bail to her in the exercise of discretionary powers of this Court,” the court further said.
The premier of the contentious web series, starring Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, and Zeeshan Ayyub among others was launched earlier this year, following which objections were to some of its scenes and certain Hindu outfits demanded that they be removed.
The series was also in dire straits for allegedly showing UP Police in a bad light. As a result, UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s advisor Shalabhmani Tripathi had warned the makers of the web series of serious legal fallout.
The cast and crew of the series had also issued an unconditional apology if their fictional show had “unintentionally” hurt sentiments.
“Even in the liberal democracies of the West, it becomes a topic of debate and the Indian diplomacy has to face tough time protecting the interest of the country and assuring the international community that the protests made against such acts are stray and genuine and it is no mark of any intolerance in the country as a whole,” Justice Siddharth noted.