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SC says new rules to regulate OTT platform lack teeth

Court rescues Amazon Prime Video India commercial head Aparna Purohit from ‘Tandav’ web series row

The Supreme Court on Friday said the government’s new rules for regulating OTT (over-the-top) platforms lacked teeth to punish violators or even to show offensive content, as it did in ‘tandav’ Protected commercial head of Amazon Prime Video India Aparna Purohit to avoid arrest. Web series row.

“We passed through your Information Technology (Guidelines for Middlemen and Digital Media Ethics Code) 2021… These are guidelines only. There is no provision for punishment or fine … what is the mechanism to control it [content]Justice Ashok Bhushan asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, head of the bench.

Ready to submit new draft: S.G.

Mr Mehta agreed to consider drafting new rules or even legislation to address the concerns raised by the court about OTT platforms. “We can come out with it … We can come out with a draft and put it before the court,” he said.

The court recorded in its order that the days the new rules were notified were “more in the nature of the guidelines” and that there was “no effective mechanism to investigate or take appropriate action” against the violators.

The court said that Mr Mehta had assured that the government would consider taking “appropriate steps” for any “further rules / laws” as it sees fit. The bench ordered that the rules / law once made should be placed before the court.

During the hearing, Amazon, submitted by senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, complained about an oral comment made by Justice Bhushan that some of the films screened on OTT platforms contained pornographic material. Mr. Rohatgi said that this comment was raised by the media and commented about it. “Amazon does not show pornography,” he said.

‘No pornography’

Mr Mehta intervened, saying that Justice Bhushan did not mean “pornography” literally, but meant that some of the material was “almost pornographic”.

“But Mr. Mehta, I can show you 10,000 movies on Amazon, there is no pornography in any of them.” I myself watch these films in the evening… These are excellent films, ”said Mr. Rohatgi.

Justice Bhushan intervened, saying that the court never meant that the films shown were not great. “We are not saying that great films are not shown …” he commented.

Turning to Ms. Purohit’s specific case, Mr. Rohatgi stated that she was only an employee and was ready to cooperate in the investigation. He submitted that two abusive scenes in ‘Tandava’ have already been removed.

The court issued a notice on her plea for bail and directed that the police not arrest her as long as she cooperates in the investigation of complaints that the web series ridicule Hindu deities and political power corridors of the country.

Ms. Purohit had approached the apex court against the Allahabad High Court’s decision to her anticipatory bail.

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