‘Freedom of Speech not absolute’, SC refuses to grant ‘Tandav’ Makers protection from arrest

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On Wednesday, the directors and actors of web series ‘Tandav’, and head of Amazon Prime India Aparna Purohit failed to get protection from arrest from Supreme Court.

The case was heard by a bench of justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy and MR Shah.

“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.

The top court was hearing a bunch of petitions seeking quashing of criminal complaints lodged in various states against Ali Abbas Zafar, the Director of the web series, and others for allegedly hurting the religious sentiments.

Besides Zafar and Purohit, producer Himanshu Mehra, the show’s writer Gaurav Solanki and actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub had filed three separate petitions against the registration of FIRs in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra.

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).

At least three FIRs have been lodged against the makers and artistes of ‘Tandav’ in Uttar Pradesh – at Lucknow, Greater Noida and Shahjahanpur – for the alleged inappropriate depiction of UP Police personnel, deities, and adverse portrayal of a character playing the role of prime minister in the show.

Similar FIRs have been lodged against people associated with the making and airing of the web series in states like MP, Maharashtra and Karnataka.

The pleas have made various state governments and police officers as parties.

The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice for clubbing multiple FIRs against them in various states.

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