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Supreme Court denies Tandav makers, actor protection from arrest, says freedom of speech not absolute

FIRs have been registered against Amazon Prime's Tandav web series for hurting religious sentiments and insulting a religion, which are offences punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 153A and 295.

January 27, 2021 / 06:10 PM IST
A screengrab of the scene from Amazon Prime's Tandav featuring actor Zeeshan Ayyub, which has allegedly hurt Hindu sentiments.

A screengrab of the scene from Amazon Prime's Tandav featuring actor Zeeshan Ayyub, which has allegedly hurt Hindu sentiments.


The Supreme Court, on January 27, denied interim protection from arrest to the makers and actors of the Tandav web series and Aparna Purohit - the head of Amazon Prime India – for hurting religious sentiments.

A Bar and Bench report quoted the SC Bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, RS Reddy, and MR Shah as saying: “Your Right to Freedom of Speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of character that hurts the sentiments of a community.”

The Supreme Court was hearing petitions that sought directions to quash the criminal charges filed against Tandav director Ali Abbas Zafar in various states for hurting Hindu sentiments.

FIRs have been lodged against the Amazon Prime India political drama in Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, and Karnataka. Apart from Zafar, Purohit, Tandav producer Himanshu Mehra, writer Gaurav Solanki, and actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub have also been named in the FIRs.

Charges have been filed against Tandav for hurting religious sentiments and insulting a religion, which are offences punishable under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 153A and 295.

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FIRs have also been registered against Tandav makers and artistes over alleged inappropriate depiction of the Uttar Pradesh police force and Hindu deities.

Notably, the Supreme Court has, however, allowed the Tandav makers and actors to approach the High Court to seek anticipatory bail or quashing of FIRs.

The SC Bench said: “Police can file closure report if apologies made and content removed.”
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