On 15 June 2020, the Punjab and Haryana High Court in the case of Gurdeepinder Singh Dhillon v. Union of India and Ors issued notice to Central and State Governments in a plea asking for regulation of the content in the web series “Paatal Lok” streamed on Amazon Prime.
Order by: Justice Arun Kumar Tyagi.
- The petition was filed by Gurdeepinder Singh Dhillon, represented by Advocate R.S. Randhawa.
- The petitioner has approached the HC under Article 226 and Article 227 of the Constitution to seeking a writ of mandamus for the regulation of content of web series “Paatal Lok” being broadcasted by Respondent No. 7 OTT Platform i.e. Amazon Prime Videos.
Arguments by Petitioner:
- The Petitioner has argued that the content is “illegal, anti-social, vulgar, abusive, minority oppressive and anti-national” and is being broadcasted without the approval of any Government authority.
- The content being aired on such platforms should get prior government approval or authentication before being aired.
- The petitioner has also sought a direction to the State Government to register First Information Report (FIR) against the makers of Paatal Lok.
- This would include the producer of Paatal Lok, Anushka Sharma.
- The broadcaster of Paatal Lok, Amazon Prime Videos, who is currently broadcasting the show on their platform.
The allegations made by the petitioner were:
- The third episode namely, “History of Violence” was intentionally made to augment communal tension.
- Caste based clashes were emphasized portraying two particular castes in a bad light.
- An episode set in Punjab also used caste-based abusive language which leads to animosity between the people belonging to those two castes.
- In an episode, members of the Sikh community referred to a boy as ‘Manjaar’, which as a portrayal was not only criminal but also defamatory.
- The members of the Sikh community were also portrayed as oppressors of society in general and women in particular.
The Petitioner has argued that broadcasting this content amounts to a violation of the following:
- IPC- Section 295A (Deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs)
- IT Act 2000 – Section 67 (Punishment for publishing or transmitting obscene material in electronic form),
- IT Act 2000 – Section 67A (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, etc., in electronic form),
- IT Act 2000 – Section 67B (Punishment for publishing or transmitting of material depicting children in sexually explicit act, etc. in electronic form,
- Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act 1986- Section 4 read with Section 6 (Prohibition of publication or sending by post of books, pamphlets, etc., containing indecent representation of women).
Court’s Order dated 15 June, 2020
- The Court issued notices to all the respondents viz. Central and State Governments, along with the Producers, Directors, Writers and Broadcasters of the content.
- The Court has asked the Union of India to file their reply.
- The matter has been adjourned to hearing on 2 July 2020.