On January 27, the Supreme Court of India refused to give interim relief to the makers and actors of the web series Tandav against the FIRs registered in different locations of the country. The court stated that the makers have no liberty to hurt anyone’s religious sentiments.
The apex court permitted them to seek bail from concerned courts in the states where FIRs have been filed. Further, the court issued a notice on the prayers for transferring and clubbing of FIRs.
You cannot hurt others’ religious sentiments: SC
During the hearing, Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi argued that people are now offended by everything, and it will destroy art, cinema, and TV.
Rohatgi: People are now offended by everything ! The Petitioners reside in Bombay. Why will they go to different States. In Arnab Goswami, your Lordships stated that violation of 19(1)(a) could allow us to approach SC. #Tandav #SupremeCourt @PrimeVideoIN @Mdzeeshanayyub— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 27, 2021
Senior Adv Fali Nariman stated in the court that ‘the ego of some people was hurt’, and the content, which according to the makers was not wrong, was removed from the series. He said, “The so-called religious sentiments that were hurt by some parts; these parts have been removed.”
Nariman: Their ego was hurt, and we have removed it and assuaged it.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 27, 2021
Bench: Mr. Nariman, investigation has started and a closure report will also be filed.
Nariman: In 6 different States.
Advocate Siddharth Agarwal appearing for Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub, the actor who mocked Lord Shiva in the series, said that the actor could not be blamed for the script’s content. To which the court noted that the actor had read the script and accepted it. Justice MR Shah said, “You cannot play a role hurting religious sentiments of others.” During the hearing, Justice Ashok Bhushan remarked that freedom of speech was not absolute.
Agarwal : The statements of the character cannot be attributed to the actor.— Live Law (@LiveLawIndia) January 27, 2021
Justice Shah : You accepted the contract after reading the script. You cannot hurt religious sentiments.#Tandav #SupremeCourt
The SC bench, comprising of justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah refused to grant any interim protection to the makers and actors of Tandav against FIRs filed in six different states. The Court asked the applicants to seek bail in the lower courts where the respective FIRs have been filed.
The judges said that they cannot use the power under section 482 CrPC in this case and they are not inclined to grant interim protection. They also rejected the plea to quash the FIRs against the concerned parties. Senior advocates Fali Nariman and Mukul Rohatgi were presenting Amazon India’s creative head Aparna Purohit, Sr Adv Siddarth Luthra was representing producer Himanshu Mehra, director Ali Abbas Zafar and writer Gaurav Solanki. Sr Adv Siddharth Agarwal was representing actor Md Zeeshan Ayyub.
Released on January 14, Amazon’s original web series Tandav attracted criticism for its anti-Hindu content and scenes mocking Hindu gods. A series of FIRs were registered in different states, including Uttar Pradesh against Amazon India, director, producer and actors of the series. Ministry of Information and Broadcasting also summoned the team over the outrage. While the director of the series Ali Abbas Zafar apologized in a tweet and said they would remove the content, the series’ actors were seen making fun of the criticism.
The makers have been booked under Sections 153-A, 295, 505(1)(b), 505(2) and 469 of Indian Penal Code, 1860 and under Sections 66, 66F and 67 of Information Technology Act, 2000. Earlier, Bombay High Court had granted them transit bail to file a bail plea in UP court.