The Allahabad high court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by the head of Amazon Prime Video's India Originals Aparna Purohit, who has been accused of inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh police personnel, Hindu deities and an adverse portrayal of a character playing the prime minister in the web series Tandav.
While rejecting the application, a single-judge bench of Justice Sidharth said that the applicant was earlier granted interim protection from arrest by another bench in a similar case but she was not cooperating with the investigation.
The court observed, "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."
“This Court further takes notice of the fact that a number of movies have been produced which have used the name of Hindu gods and goddesses and shown them in disrespectful manner like in Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Satyam Shivam Sundram, P.K., Oh My God, etc. 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)."
"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,” the court observed.
The petitioner's plea was that the web series was a work of fiction. There was no intention of the applicant to outrage the religious feeling of any community.
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 grant of anticipatory bail to her in the exercise of discretionary powers of this Court," the court further said.
“It has come to the notice of this Court that the applicant has filed another anticipatory bail application before this Court with regard to another such FIR lodged at PS Hazratganj, Lucknow. She was granted interim protection from arrest by the order dated 11.02.2021 by a co-ordinate Bench, but she was not co-operating with the investigation,” the court said.
It is to be recalled that on January 19, 2021, an FIR was lodged on the complaint of one Balbir Azad of Raunija village under Rabupura police station of Greater Noida. In the complaint, Azad alleged that the show depicted Uttar Pradesh and its police in a poor light. The complaint further alleged that the web series had deliberately denigrated Hindu gods and goddesses.
The counsel appearing on behalf of Uttar Pradesh has vehemently opposed the application saying that a total of 10 FIRs and four criminal complaints have been filed relating to the disputed web series across the country.
He has submitted that the aforesaid cases lodged against the applicants show that merely one person is not affected by the conduct of the applicant and other co-accused persons, rather a number of persons across the country have felt that the web series is offensive and hence, they have lodged FIRs and complaints.
As a result, the applicant is not required to be granted any latitude from this court, the counsel added.