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OTT Regulation : Centre Seeks Transfer Of Cases Pending In High Courts To Supreme Court

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
11 Feb 2021 10:18 AM GMT
OTT Regulation : Centre Seeks Transfer Of Cases Pending In High Courts To Supreme Court
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The Central Government has filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of cases pending in different High Courts for regulation of Over The Top(OTT) platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Hotstar etc., to the SC.The move is significant as it comes amidst various indications given by the Centre that it will bring guidelines to regulate the content streamed in...

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The Central Government has filed a transfer petition in the Supreme Court seeking transfer of cases pending in different High Courts for regulation of Over The Top(OTT) platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, Disney Hotstar etc., to the SC.

The move is significant as it comes amidst various indications given by the Centre that it will bring guidelines to regulate the content streamed in OTT platforms, which are outside the regulatory framework of the Central Board of Film Certification under the Cinematograph Act.

It was on December 20 last year that the transfer petition was filed through the Secretaries of the Ministries of Information & Broadcasting, Electronics & Information Technology and Law & Justice.

On February 9, a division bench of Justices S Abdul Nazeer and Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the respondents on the petition and listed the matter on March 23 by tagging it with another pending petition filed by an NGO named "Justice For Rights Foundation" seeking the regulation of OTT platforms. "Justice For Rights Foundation"  filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court after the Delhi High Court had dismissed its petition saying that OTT regulation was a legislative exercise.

Presently, the High Courts of Madhya Pradesh, Allahabad, and Punjab & Haryana are considering petitions seeking regulation of OTT platforms. The Karnataka High Court had rejected a similar petition in August 2019 saying that court cannot frame regulations in the nature of a legislation. The Punjab and Haryana High Court is considering a petition seeking regulation of the web series 'Paatal Lok' hosted by Prime Video. Few days back, the Madhya Pradesh High Court refused to entertain a PIL seeking to ban the streaming of 'Taandav' webseries in Prime Video. The Allahabad High Court has also rejected PILs to ban 'Paatal Lok' and 'XXX2' shows.

The transfer petition of the Union Government has named Netflix India, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+Hotstar, Alt Balaji, Sony Liv, Zee5, Arre OTT, Y Films, VOOT, ULLU Digital, Hoichoi, VIU etc., among the respondents. The Central Board of Film Certification(CBFC) and the petitioners who have filed the petitions in the High Courts have also been made respondents.

In November 2020, the Government of India had issued a notification bringing online media and OTT platforms under the purview of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting.

Two days back,  Prakash Javadekar, Minister of Information and Broadcasting, told the Rajya Sabha that OTT guidelines are almost ready and will be notified soon.


Meanwhile, the OTT players came out with a code of conduct that will form the basis for self-regulation of content.

OTT giants like Netlflix and Prime Video have landed in controversies following complaints that series like 'Leila', 'Paatal Lok' etc, were showing Indian culture and the Central Government in poor light. Few months ago, an FIR was registered in Madhya Pradesh against Netfilix officials on the allegation that a kissing scene of the series 'The Suitable Boy' inside a temple offended religious sentiments.

Last month, the Supreme Court issued notice on a PIL seeking to ban 'Mirzapur 2', which is being streamed on Prime Video, on the ground that it was showing Uttar Pradesh in bad light. Also, two weeks back, the Supreme Court refused interim protection from arrest to the makers and actors of 'Taandav series' and the creative head of Prime Video in multiple FIRs registered against them in several states alleging that the show hurt Hindu religious sentiments. The top court orally remarked that an actor cannot play a role hurting religious sentiments.

Click here to read/download the order issuing notice on the transfer petition




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