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Tandav- Allahabad HC Denies Anticipatory Bail To Aparna Purohit- Says "Such People Make The Revered Figures Of Religion Of Majority Community Source Of Earning Money"

Sparsh Upadhyay
25 Feb 2021 1:41 PM GMT
Tandav- Allahabad HC Denies Anticipatory Bail To Aparna Purohit- Says Such People Make The Revered Figures Of Religion Of Majority Community Source Of Earning Money
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Underlining that western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but the Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and still doing this most unabashedly with the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday (25th February) denied Pre-arrest bail to Commercial Head of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, in the ongoing investigation...

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Underlining that western filmmakers have refrained from ridiculing Lord Jesus or the Prophet but the Hindi filmmakers have done this repeatedly and still doing this most unabashedly with the Hindu Gods and Goddesses, the Allahabad High Court on Thursday (25th February) denied Pre-arrest bail to Commercial Head of Amazon Prime Video, Aparna Purohit, in the ongoing investigation against the web series 'Tandav'.

Drawing parallels with the Munawar Faruqui incident, the Bench of Justice Siddharth has remarked,

"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 Godesses 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."

The Court has further noted that "such people make the revered figures of the religion of majority community source of earning money in most brazen manner taking benefit of the liberal and tolerant tradition of country."

The matter before the Court

The Court was hearing the anticipatory bail application filed with a prayer to grant anticipatory bail to the applicant, Aparna Purohit.

She has been booked for alleged commission of offences under Sections 66 (Computer-related offences), 66F (Punishment for cyber terrorism) and 67 (Transmitting obscene material) IT Act, 2008 (as amended) apart from Sections 153-A (Promoting enmity between different groups), 295 (Defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion), 505(1)(b) (Public mischief), 505(2) (Statements promoting hatred between classes), 469 (Forgery for purpose of harming reputation) of IPC.

Case of the Prosecution

As per the Prosecution's case, the content of Tandav Series is affecting the image of the police of the State of Uttar Pradesh adversely. The Following points have been averred by the Prosecution: -

  • In a Dial 100 police vehicle, two actors are shown traveling with open doors in a police uniform, consuming liquor, and hurling abuses.
  • After witnessing part-1 of the movie, it is seen that the Hindu Gods and Goddesses have been depicted in a bad light with the intention of inciting communal sentiments.
  • The post of Prime Minister has been depicted in a manner which will adversely affect the democratic system of the country.
  • Caste and community-related utterances have been made deliberately so that it may affect the public peace.
  • Utterances have been made against the State police, public administration and the constitutional posts so that the element of hate is developed between the communities and there are scenes that show disrespect for the scheduled castes.
  • On account of the scenes and dialogues in the movie, the social harmony and public peace is being adversely affected.
  • All this has been deliberately done to make the web series controversial and gain publicity for the purpose of commercial gain.

Hence, the F.I.R has been lodged against the producer/ director and actors/actresses of the movie series.

Court's General Observations

At the outset, referring to allegedly objectionable scene of the Series, wherein Devakinandan (Lord Krishna) is talking to another character Kailash (Lord Shiva), the Court remarked,

"These characters are part of religious faith of majority community of India and their use by filmmakers in offensive way is bound to hurt the sentiments of the majority community of the country."

The Court has even remarked that the alluding to Lord Rama gaining popularity on social media is a clear pointer to the dispute regarding the construction of Lord Ram's temple.

Further, the Court has also remarked that 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 mankind altogether.

Again, referring to the abovementioned scenes of the Series, the Court has remarked,

"The advice of Sage Narad to Lord Shiva to make some inflammatory tweet on Twitter like all the students of the campus becoming traitors and raising slogans of freedom clearly alludes to the incidents which took place in Jawaharlal Nehru University and therefore, it can be considered to be a message of hate advanced through the movie."

The Allahabad HC's 20-page Order denying anticipatory bail to Aparna Purohit goes on to take judicial notice of the fact that whenever such crimes (like the one at hand) are committed by some citizens of the country, "the forces inimical to the interest of this country become active and they make it an issue and raise it before different national and international forums alleging that the Indian citizens have become intolerant and 'India' has become an unsafe place to live."

Court's observations regarding Hindi Film Indutsry

The Bench of Justice Siddharth in its 20-page-order has remarked that a number of movies have been produced which have used the name of Hindu Gods and Goddesses and shown them in disrespectful manner.

To drive home the point, the Court has even named some movies namely - Ram Teri Ganga Maili, Satyam Shivam Sundram, P.K., Oh My God and has further observed that,

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

The Court has also underlined that his tendency on the part of the Hindi film industry is growing and if not curbed in time, it may have disastrous consequences for the Indian social, religious and communal order.

The Court has referred to 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.

Noting that the film industry in the south has not indulged in such acts like the Hindi film industry, the Court has also observed,

"The young generation of the country, which is not much aware of the social and cultural heritage of this country, gradually starts believing what is shown in the movies by the people like the accused persons in the present movie in dispute and thereby, it destroys the basic concept of the survival of this country having tremendous diversity of all kinds as a united nation."

"Offences are made out, Applicant doesn't deserve pre arrest Bail"

With regard to the application of Section 295-A I.P.C. in the instant case, the Court has noted that the scenes show that the scenes have been made, intentionally using the names of Hindu Gods and sage to convey an insidious message.

In reference to the charge under Section 153-A(b) I.P.C., the Court has noted that the offence is fully made out since the act of the applicant is prejudicial to the maintenance of harmony between different religious, social and communal groups and would affect public peace and tranquility.

Further, the Court has also noted that the contents of the dialogues in the above-noted scenes would show that the offences under Sections 505(1)(b) I.P.C. and 505(2) I.P.C. are fully made out.

Underlining that an attempt has been made to widen the gap between the higher castes and the scheduled castes in the aforesaid scenes and that her fundamental right of life and liberty cannot be protected by grant of anticipatory bail, the Court has remarked,

"The sentiments of majority community have been hurt by display of the characters of their faith in disrespectful manner and on the other hand…the applicant had not been vigilant and has acted irresponsibly making her open to criminal prosecution in permitting streaming of a movie which is against the fundamental rights of the majority of citizens of this country."

Lastly, the Court said that 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, since co-operation with the investigation is a necessary condition for grant of anticipatory bail.

Thus, the court denied to grant her the benefit of Pre-arrest bail.

Case title - Aparna Purohit v. State of U.P. [CRIMINAL MISC ANTICIPATORY BAIL APPLICATION U/S 438 CR.P.C. No. - 2640 of 2021]

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