Bombay HC grants pre-arrest bail to Tandav Makers, but now one more FIR registered

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On Wednesday, the Bombay High Court granted three weeks’ transit anticipatory bail to Ali Abbas Zafar and Gaurav Solanki, director and writer of the web series Tandav, and Amazon content head Aparna Purohit in the FIR registered against them for hurting religious sentiments and portraying police poorly.

The Uttar Pradesh police came to Mumbai to investigate the case based on an FIR registered there. Meanwhile in Mumbai too, an FIR was registered against the makers and actors of Tandav at Ghatkopar police station on Wednesday.

The HC order enables the Tandav team to apply for regular pre-arrest bail before the appropriate court in UP. Senior counsel Aabad Ponda and advocate Aniket Nikam appearing for both Zafar and Purohit argued that the duo feared arrest pursuant to the FIR. Their application stated, “They are innocent and have been wrongly implicated.” They submitted that the “allegations in the FIR do not make out any offence whatsoever as stated”.

They also submitted that “no allegation whatsoever has been made against the applicants in their personal capacity in the FIR”. The counsel argued that the FIR did not ascribe any role and that it was “based on surmises and conjectures”.

Tandav is a political drama starring Saif Ali Khan and Dimple Kapadia. It has been in the midst of a controversy since its release last week, with certain politicians and Hindutva outfits speaking against the show for allegedly hurting religious sentiments. The scene that caused a stir appears in the first episode with two college students staging a play.

One of them poses as Narada and the other as Bholenath, or Lord Shiva, dressed unconventionally in jacket and pants. Narada asks Bholenath to do something about his popularity since “Ramji’s followers are increasing by the day on social media”.

When Bholenath wonders aloud if he should post a new picture, Narada recommends that he should tweet something “sensational” such as college students turning unpatriotic with chants of “azaadi, azaadi” every day.

Lucknow police registered an FIR on January 17. The makers of the series said, “The FIR does not specify, identify, or describe any specific instance in the web series which may be deemed as indecent depiction of any gods and goddesses for being hurtful to religious sentiments or amount to any offences as alleged.”

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