Tandav web series case: Allahabad HC turns down anticipatory bail plea of Amazon's Aparna Purohit

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PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high court on Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail application filed by

Aparna Purohit

, head of India Originals, Amazon Prime Video in connection with an FIR where it was alleged that the makers of web series ‘Tandav’ had hurt the religious sentiments of a particular community.
The applicant, Purohit, is accused of inappropriate depiction of UP police personnel, Hindu deities and adverse portrayal of a character playing the prime minister in the web series ‘Tandav’, an Indian political thriller web series on Amazon Prime Video.
Rejecting the application of Purohit, Justice

Siddhartha

observed, “On the one hand, the sentiments of majority community have been hurt by display of the characters of their faith in a disrespectful manner and on the other hand, an attempt has been made to widen the gap between the higher castes and the scheduled castes when the object of the state is to bridge the gap between the different castes and communities and make the country a united force socially, communally and politically.”
The court further added, “Such people make the revered figures of the religion of the majority community as a source of earning money in the most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of the country.”
The court, after hearing the parties concerned, observed, “The basic philosophy of the Constitution is to permit the people of all faith to practise, profess and propagate their religion freely without hurting or acting against the people who profess or practise 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.”
Regarding the plea of the applicant that the offences alleged against her were not made out and that her company has not been impleaded as an accused, the court said, “The fact remains that the applicant had not been vigilant and has acted irresponsibly making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting screening of a movie which is against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country and 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 took a serious notice of the fact that the applicant was not cooperating with the investigation in connection with an FIR lodged against her at police station Hazratganj, Lucknow, where the court while entertaining her anticipatory bail application had granted her interim protection from arrest by the order dated February 11, 2021.
Taking notice of it, the court observed, “This conduct of the applicant shows that she has scant respect for the law of the land and her conduct further disentitles her to any relief from this court, since co-operation with investigation is a necessary condition for grant of anticipatory bail.”
Earlier, the court had reserved its order on February 4, 2021, directing that till the pronouncement of order in the case, no coercive action should be taken against Purohit.
The plea taken by the counsel for the petitioner was that the web series ‘Tandav’ was a work of fiction. There was no intention of the applicant to outrage the religious feeling of any community.
To recall, on January 19, 2021, an FIR was lodged on the complaint of Balbir Azad of Raunija village under Rabupura police station of Greater Noida alleging that the series depicted Uttar Pradesh and its police in a poor light.
It further alleged that the series had deliberately denigrated Hindu gods and goddesses. The Prime Minister of India has been depicted going against democratic norms and deliberate comments have been made to disturb caste and communal amity. The makers of the series wanted to disturb the peace and tranquillity with the aim of making money.
State government counsel’s argument was that total 10 FIRs and four criminal complaints have been filed relating to the disputed web series in the country. 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,” added the state government counsel.

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