Date: 28th January, 2021
by Nishtha Girdhar, UILS, Panjab University
Amazon Prime Video’s Tandav, one of the most anticipated web series this year, has found itself in the midst of controversy and trolling since its release on January 15. The show has been accused of hurting religious sentiments, particularly a scene featuring actor Zeeshan Ayyub, which shows him dressed as Lord Shiva and mouthing lines about the word “azaadi”.
Following numerous complaints, the makers of the show issued an unconditional apology and offered to delete “problematic” sequences from the show.
SEQUENCE OF EVENTS
Filing of First FIR
The first FIR against the actors, producers and director of Tandav was filed by BJP MLA Ram Kadam. This complaint was lodged at the Ghatkopar police station in Mumbai.
Following this, an FIR was registered against the director, producer and the writer of web series, along with Amazon Prime Video’s India head of original content at the Hazratganj police station of Lucknow for allegedly portraying Hindu Gods in bad light. The makers were also accused of provoking communal tension via its dialogues.
Multiple charges, including those related to promoting enmity among groups, defiling places of worship, forgery and triggering public mischief were mentioned in the FIR.
Second Criminal Complaint
Another criminal complaint was filed by a Bihar-based lawyer against 96 people associated with web series, who alleged the show “spreads-caste based discrimination”
Issue of Summons by I&B Ministry
The Amazon team was called upon by the I&B Ministry headed by Prakash Javadekar to explain themselves even as the makers continued to face severe trolling.
The makers of the show thanked the Information and Broadcasting Ministry for its “guidance and support” in the matter.
Grant of Anticipatory Bail
Last week Bombay High Court had granted transit anticipatory bail to Tandav web series director Ali Abbas Zafar, producer Himanshu Mehra, Amazon content head Aparna Purohit and writer Gaurav Solanki enabling them to seek regular pre-arrest bail from Uttar Pradesh.
The three-week anticipatory transit bail was granted by Justice PD Naik.
The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notices on a plea filed by the Director, Producer, Writer and Actor of the web series seeking for clubbing and transferring of criminal proceedings which have been initiated against them in various cities for allegedly hurting religious sentiments.
A Bench comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and MR Shah refused to grant any interim protection to the accused persons apprehending arrest from Police departments of six states.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court declined them interim protection. They have been asked to take up the issue in related high courts where complaints have been filed against them.
"We cannot use the power under Section 482 CrPC. We are not inclined to grant interim protection," the Bench said. The bench also said that it was rejecting the prayer for quashing of the FIRs.
Justice Ashok Bhushan also remarked during the hearing that freedom of speech was not absolute.