FIRs against Tandav web series: Supreme Court says freedom of speech is not ‘absolute’

Senior advocate Fali S. Nariman said the web series makers had removed the “objectionable content” but were still having cases being filed against them

author_img IANS Published :  27th January 2021 02:45 PM   |   Published :   |  27th January 2021 02:45 PM

A still from Tandav

The Supreme Court on Wednesday observed that freedom of speech was “not absolute” during its hearing on pleas seeking a stay on FIRs against actors and producers of the Tandav web series on Amazon Prime Video.

A bench headed by Ashok Bhushan expressed its disinclination to pass any direction to stay the FIRs. The top court said the petitioners should go to the High Court to seek quashing of these cases.

Senior advocates Fali S. Nariman, Mukul Rohatgi, and Siddharth Luthra had cited the top court judgment in Arnab Goswami’s case to seek relief in the matter.

Luthra argued that the director of the web series was being harassed. “Is this the way liberty should be protected in the country? FIRs are being filed across the country,” he added.

Nariman submitted that apologies had been made despite which several FIRs were filed in six states. Nariman said the web series makers had removed the “objectionable content” but were still having cases being filed against them.

Justice Bhushan replied to this by saying, “You want the FIRs to be quashed, then why can't you approach the High Court?”

The bench observed that the right to freedom of speech was not absolute and that it was subject to restrictions.

The top court also questioned the reason behind petitioners moving the court under Article 32.

The bench said the police could file closure reports too if apologies had been made.

However, Rohatgi cited Arnab Goswami’s case to move the top court after a violation of Article 19(1)(a). He added that people “got offended with anything and everything” these days.

“Please protect us with no coercive steps. We deleted content without any protest. Scenes have been deleted. It’s a political satire,” argued Rohatgi.

Rohatgi submitted that if people were “so sensitive” in this country, freedom to speech under Article 19 (1)(a) would be “destroyed”.

The top court will hear the matter further after lunch.