On Wednesday while hearing pleas seeking stay on FIRs against actors and producers of the web series Tandav, the Supreme Court said that freedom of speech is not absolute. A bench headed by Ashok Bhushan said that the petitioners should go to the high courts to seek quashing of these cases. The court also refused to grant protection from arrest to the makers of Tandav against whom FIRs have been filed.
The case was heard by a bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and MR Shah. Senior advocates Fali S Nariman, Mukul Rohatgi and Siddharth Luthra cited the recent judgement of the top court in Arnab Goswami’s case during the hearing. “Is this way liberty should be protected in the country and FIRs are being filed across the country,” Luthra said adding that the director of the web series, Ali Abbas Zafar, is being harassed.
“Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of character that hurts the sentiments of a community,” the bench said.
Nariman pointed out that the apologies have been made and still several FIRs have been filed in six states. He also said that the objectionable content has also been removed from the series. Responding to it, Justice Bhushan said , “You want the FIRs to be quashed, then why can’t you approach the High Courts?” The bench said that the police can file closure reports too if apologies have been made.
Rohatgi cited Arnab Goswami case to move the top court after a violation of Article 19(1)(a). He added people get offended with anything and everything these days. “Please protect us with no coercive steps. We deleted content without any protest. Scenes have been deleted. It’s a political satire,” argued Rohatgi. The bench while passing the judgement refused to grant protection from arrest to the makers who have been named in the FIRs.
The web series is facing criminal cases for hurting religious sentiments and insulting religion punishable under Sections 153A and 295 of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
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