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Centre to present new regulatory framework for OTT platforms in Supreme Court

The Union government is likely to submit a new proposed regulatory framework for Over the Top (OTT) platforms like Netflix and Amazon Prime in the apex court. This comes following a Supreme Court order stressing the need for some screening of online shows and web series being telecast on such platforms.

Earlier on Thursday, a Supreme Court bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan said that some regulation is needed for OTT platforms as in some cases even ‘pornography is being shown’ on such platform and a balance has to be maintained.

“We want to see the regulations because we are of the view that there should be some screening of these types of films/shows… What they are showing? They are showing pornography in some films. There should be some regulations. Balance has to be maintained,” Justice Bhushan said.

The court has asked the Centre to place the recently framed regulation before on Friday. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta appearing for Centre told the Court that these platforms are showing filthy things with abuses too. He said regulations will be placed before the Bench on Friday.

The Bench was hearing an appeal of the commercial head of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, against the Allahabad High Court order that denied anticipatory bail to her, in the ongoing investigation against the web series ‘Tandav’, adjourned it for Friday.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Purohit, contended that regulations have come and the Allahabad High Court order was not based on OTT regulations. It’s about freedom of speech and expression.

The Allahabad High Court on February 25 declined to give protection from arrest to Purohit by dismissing the anticipatory bail application of her. The Uttar Pradesh Police had filed an FIR against the top Amazon Prime executive for the derogatory depiction of Hindu deities and promoting religious enmity through the series.

The High Court in its order has noted that “such people make the revered figures of the religion of majority community the source of earning money in a most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of the country.”

Making strong observations while rejecting Purohit’s anticipatory bail plea in a case filed against her in Noida, Justice Siddharth said, “The 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.”

Earlier on January 27, the Supreme Court had refused to grant interim protection from arrest to actors and makers of web series ‘Tandav’ and allowed them to approach High Courts for relief from arrest or quashing of FIRs.

Justice Ashok Bhushan while denying to grant interim protection from arrest however had agreed to hear the issue of transferring and clubbing several FIRs registered against them across the country and issued notice to complainants on the prayer.

‘Tandav’ actor Mohammad Zeeshan Ayyub, Purohit and the makers had approached the top court seeking protection from arrest on the FIRs registered against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments and telecasting objectionable content.

The petitions filed in January had requested the top court that criminal proceedings initiated against them for offences including hurting religious sentiments be quashed or alternatively club all the seven FIRs registered in different states and transfer them to a court in Mumbai.

So far three FIRs against the show are registered in Lucknow, Noida and Shahjahanpur. Two FIRs were lodged in Madhya Pradesh while one FIR each was lodged in Karnataka and Bihar. Apart from the FIRs, at least three other criminal complaints are pending in Maharashtra, Delhi and Chandigarh respectively.

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