Allahabad HC rejects anticipatory bail plea by Amazon Prime Video head in Tandav case; says serial is against fundamental rights of the majority of citizens

THE Allahabad High Court Thursday rejected the anticipatory bail plea filed by the head of Amazon Prime Video’s India Originals, Aparna Purohit, who is facing an FIR by the Noida police for the alleged derogatory depiction of Hindu deities in the web series, Tandav.

The court justified the rejection on the grounds that a case had been fully made out against Purohit under sections 295-A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs.), 153-A(b) [Promoting enmity between different groups on ground of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language, etc., and doing acts prejudicial to maintenance of harmony] and 153-A(b), 505(1)(b) and 505(2) [Statements conducing to public mischief] of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

A single-judge bench of Justice Siddharth said the sentiments of the majority community had been hurt by the display of the characters of their faith in a disrespectful manner even as an attempt had been made to widen the gap between higher castes and the scheduled castes, when the objective of the state was to bridge the gap between the different castes and communities and make the country a united force socially, communally and politically.

“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 judge opined.

He added Purohit had not been vigilant and had acted irresponsibly, making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting the streaming of a movie which was against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country; therefore, her fundamental right of life and liberty could not be protected by granting her anticipatory bail in the exercise of discretionary powers of this Court.

“Things are worsening as is evident from the fact that an obscure stand-up comedian, Munawar Faruqui, from Gujarat made comments on Hindu God and Goddesses in a new year show at Indore and gained undue publicity on being arrested in a case. This shows that from films this trend has passed to comedy shows. Such people make the revered figures of religion of majority community source of earning money in most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of country”, the Judge said.

The Court added it also took notice of the fact that a number of movies had been produced which had used the name of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and shown them in a disrespectful manner (Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Satyam Shivam Sundram, P.K., Oh My God, etc.).

Efforts had been made to “subvert” the image of historical and mythological personalities (Padmavati). Names and icons of faith of the majority community had been used to earn money (Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram Leela).

This tendency, the Court said, on the part of the Hindi film industry was growing and if not curbed in time, could have disastrous consequences for India’s social, religious and communal order, the judge suggested.

“There appears to be a design behind such acts on the part of the people who just give a disclaimer in all the films and depict things in the movies which are really religiously, socially and communally offensive in nature”, the court said.

The judge went on to say the use of the word “TANDAV” as the name of the movie could be offensive to the majority of the people of this country since this word is associated with a particular act assigned to Lord Shiva “who is considered to be creator, conservator and destroyer of the mankind.”

The court said the petitioner was granted interim protection by the co-ordinate bench in another FIR against her in Lucknow, but she had not cooperated with the investigation.

“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 the investigation is a necessary condition for grant of anticipatory bail”, said the HC closing the case by rejecting her bail plea.

Eariler, crew member of the web series had approached the Supreme Court against the multiple FIRs against them in various states. The top court while refusing to grant them interim protection, asked them to approach the high courts where the FIRs had been filed for relief.

Read the HC order