Aparna Purohit v. State of Uttar Pradesh

The Cyber Blog IndiaCase Summary

Anticipatory bail application for the directors of a web series that violated public sentiments

Aparna Purohit v. State of Uttar Pradesh
(2021) 3 All LJ 634
In the High Court of Allahabad
Crl. Misc. Ant. B.A. 2640/2021
Before Justice Siddharth
Decided on February 25, 2021

Relevancy of the case: Anticipatory bail application for the directors of a web series that violated public sentiments

Statutes and Provisions Involved

  • The Information Technology Act, 2000 (Section 66, 67)
  • The Indian Penal Code, 1860 (Section 153A(1)(b), 295A, 505(1)(b), 505(2))
  • The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Section 3(1)(r), 18, 18A(i))
  • The Constitution of India, 1950 (Article 51A(e), 19(1)(a), 19(1)(g), 21)
  • The Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (Section 57)

Relevant Facts of the Case

  • The accused and co-accused are the head of Amazon India Originals and the Director of the series Taandav, respectively. Basically, it is contended that the series poorly depicted religious communities, women, the police of Uttar Pradesh and officials of several constitutional posts.
  • All in all, there were several complaints filed against both the accused persons for violating public sentiment under Article 19 of the Constitution of India.
  • The applicants in this case are both the accused. Subsequently, they approached this court for anticipatory bail.

Prominent Arguments by the Advocates

  • The applicant’s counsel argued that the series did not show the content with malicious intent. Furthermore, it was only a work of fiction. The counsel cited the case of Mahendra Singh Dhoni v. Yerraguntla Shyam Sundar (2017) 7 SCC 760, wherein the Apex Court has held that Section 295A IPC penalises only those acts done with malicious intent.
  • The applicant’s counsel submitted that the creators not only included a disclaimer, issued an apology, but also removed the objectionable scenes. Despite this, if criminal initiation proceeds, it shall violate Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India.
  • The respondent’s counsel submitted that there were multiple FIRs and criminal cases filed against this web series, showing that it has affected public sentiment. The counsel also submitted that it was the complainant’s duty to ensure that content does not override citizens’ freedom of religion.

Opinion of the Bench

  • Every citizen must respect all faiths, even while creating fictional content.
  • Moreover, the court was of the view that in the current case, there is a prima facie case for the applicability of provisions under Section 3(1)(r) of the SC/ST Act and Sections 153A(b), 505(1)(b) and 505(2) of IPC.

Final Decision

  • The court rejected the anticipatory bail application.

Julia Anna Joseph, an undergraduate student at the School of Law, Christ University, prepared this case summary during her internship with The Cyber Blog India in January/February 2022.