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Mirzapur Series Row: Allahabad High Court Stays Arrest Of Producers Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani

Sparsh Upadhyay
29 Jan 2021 9:52 AM GMT
Mirzapur Series Row: Allahabad High Court Stays Arrest Of Producers Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani
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The Allahabad High Court on Friday (29th January) stayed the arrest of 'Mirzapur Series' producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani. While staying the arrest, the Bench of Justice MK Gupta and Justice Subhash Chand also issued a notice to the state government and the complainant in the matter seeking their reply.FIR against "Mirzapur2" Series - Allahabad High Court stays the arrest...

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The Allahabad High Court on Friday (29th January) stayed the arrest of 'Mirzapur Series' producers Farhan Akhtar and Ritesh Sidhwani.

While staying the arrest, the Bench of Justice MK Gupta and Justice Subhash Chand also issued a notice to the state government and the complainant in the matter seeking their reply.

Background of the matter

A first information report was lodged against the petitioners (Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani) and others on 17th January 2021 at Kotwali Dehat Police Station (Mirzapur) at the instance of a local Journalist Arvind Chaturvedi for an undated incident.

Resultantly, Sections 295-A, 504,505,34 IPC and 67A I.T. Act were invoked against the petitioners (Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani).

As per the FIR, the primary allegation of the Complainant is that 'certain' content in Web Series titled MIRZAPUR depicts the town of Mirzapur (and the places within) as anti-Social and infested with crime and that the Series promotes illicit relationships, abusive language, casteism and portrays a wrong/ polluted picture of the Legal/Judicial System therein.

It has been further asserted by the Complainant in the FIR that the portrayal of the town of Mirzapur in such a manner is far away from reality of life in Mirzapur and thereby has hurt his sentiments.

Interestingly, the first informant has also mentioned the fact that some of his friends/acquaintances have started calling him as "Kaaleen Bhaiya" who is the antagonist in the series and is involved in various illegal activities.

Submissions puts forth

The Petitioners (Farhan Akhtar & Ritesh Sidhwani) submitted before the Court that the said Series is purely a work of fiction, which is specifically clarified in the said Series by way of a disclaimer at the start of each Episode which apprises all its viewers that the said Series respects all faiths and religions and that all places and events in the said Series are completely fictional.

It was also submitted that the Series has been created and is exhibited sans any intention whatsoever whether on part of the Petitioners or the professionals associated with the same to hurt religious feelings/sentiments and/or to break the public peace and/or to incite or likely to incite any class or community of persons to commit any offence against any other class or community and/or creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill will between classes.

Further, they argued that the first season of the web-series was released on 16.11.2018 and after a huge success, the second season was launched on 23.10.2020, and it was after almost 3 months the FIR has been lodged.

Importantly, it was argued that the web-series is a fictional work of art and needs to be appreciated in light of the exercise of creative /artistic freedom by its makers as provided under Article 19(1)(a) freedom of trade of the Petitioner and under Article 19(1)(g).

Lastly, it was prayed that FIR in Case crime no.0016 of 2021 under section 295-A, 504,505,34 IPC AND 67A I.T. Act Police Station Kotwali Dehat, District Mirzapur be quashed.

Also, a stay on the entire proceedings initiated in the case was also sought along with a prayer that they should not be arrested/harassed the petitioner in pursuance to impugned First Information Report.

Matter was argued by Mr. Manish Tiwary (Senior Adv.), Mr. G.S. Chaturvedi (Senior Adv.) assisted by Syed Imran Ibrahim

Mirzapur matter before the Supreme Court

In a plea seeking for ban on the Indian web series, "Mirzapur", the Supreme Court last week issued notices to Amazon Prime Video, Central Government, and Excel Entertainment, producer of the show.

A Bench headed by Chief Justice of India SA Bobde heard the matter and proceeded to seek a response from the Respondents.

It may be noted that the plea has been moved before the Supreme Court by one Sujeet Kumar Singh, a resident of Mirzapur.

He has submitted that the his intent to move the plea is to protect the historical and cultural value of the district of Mirzapur located in Uttar Pradesh, and that the web series, by showing vulgar and shameless scenes, attempts to mar the name of the city.

By showing every resident of Mirzapur as a "goon, vagabond and adulterer in front of the country", it is submitted that the web series has "completely tarnished the historical and cultural image of the city/district".

In light of the above, the plea seeks for a ban on the release of Mirzapur 2, the sequel, and for directions to set up a pre-screening committee for content that is directly released on online platforms. It further prays for censorship of these shows and shows, on par with movies that get censored before releasing in theatres.

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