Bombay HC grants anticipatory bail to makers of ‘Tandav’

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The Bombay High Court on Wednesday granted three-week transit pre-arrest bail to Ali Abbas Zafar, the director of web series ‘Tandav’, who had been booked by Lucknow Police for allegedly depicting Hindu deities in a poor light on the show. The filmmaker moved the HC seeking regular anticipatory bail.

A single-judge bench of Justice Prakash D Naik also granted similar relief to Aparna Purohit, head of content, India, Amazon Prime, along with producer Himanshu Krishna Mehra and writer Gaurav Solanki.

The Lucknow Police filed an FIR against the makers of the web series on a complaint by Senior Sub-Inspector Amar Nath Yadav, claiming Hindu gods had been portrayed in a bad light. Purohit was also named in the FIR filed at Hazratganj police station.

The filmmakers and the others were booked under IPC sections 153 A (promoting enmity between different groups on grounds of religion, race, place of birth, residence, language), 295 (injuring or defiling place of worship with intent to insult the religion of any class), 505 (1) (B) (public mischief with intent to cause fear or alarm) and 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), as well as provisions of Information Technology Act.

The plea filed by the makers stated, “The applicants have come to learn that the said FIR was registered on January 17, 2021 at 11.46 pm and that the police authorities of the concerned police station are currently travelling to Mumbai to arrest the applicants in pursuance of the same.”

The applicants moved high court, apprehending arrest. Their counsel submitted that the content in question has been removed and the makers do not want to give rise to any further controversy.

The plea further stated, “The web-series is a work of fiction and is an Indian Hindi political drama showcasing coming together of different worlds under the gamut of politics. It is a dramatic take of the powerplay between people at the high level to secure their position(s). The web-series and the characters thereof in no manner depict/portray/represent any gods and/or goddesses of any religion whatsoever.”

The applicants, through senior counsel Aabad Ponda and advocate Aniket Nikam, submitted that the FIR further does not make any direct/indirect allegations against them in their individual capacities. “The FIR also does not portray any role/intent whatsoever to the applicant for having committed any offence, under which the FIR is registered,” their plea read. They further noted that none of the allegations mentioned in the FIR makes out any offence for which it was filed.

Additional Public Prosecutor Yogesh Nakhwa opposed the plea, saying the applicants should appear before a court in Hazratganj and seek similar a relief instead of approaching the HC.

After hearing submissions on both sides, Justice Naik granted transitory anticipatory bail of three-week to the four applicants so that they could approach a court in Lucknow for regular pre-arrest bail.

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