Ekta Kapoor Gets Relief From SC in FIR for Obscene Content in Web Series XXX

On Thursday, the Supreme Court of India granted interim protection from arrest to TV/Film producer Ekta Kapoor in relation to an FIR registered by the Annapurna Police regarding the transmission of web series XXX uncensored which is promoted by Alt Balaji( a company owned by Ekta Kapoor and her mother).

The order was passed by a Bench headed by CJI SA Bobde in a petition that was filed by Ms Ekta Kapoor wherein she challenged the order passed by MP High Court which had earlier refused to quash the FIR filed against her.

Genesis of the case:

Ms Kapoor has been booked u/s 294, 298 and 34 of the IPC, and u/s 67 and 67-A of the IT Act. Section 3 of the State Emblem of India Act was also mentioned in the FIR.

The complainant in the case, one Valmik Sakaragaye had alleged that web series XXX season 2 spreads obscenity and hurts religious feelings. It was further alleged that one particular scene portrays the Indian Army and its uniform in a bad light.

Earlier. Hon’ble Justice Shailendra Shukla had observed that in order to determine if a particular scene was obscene or not, recording of evidence was necessary. He had further said it could not be outrightly said that the episode in question was not obscene.

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Case before the High Court:-

Before the High Court Ms Kapoor had argued that she had no knowledge about the contents of the episode as she was neither a producer nor a director of the series and her name also did not feature in the credits.

This line of argument was rejected by the High Court, which held that as the MD of the platform, she was presumed to know the contents of the episode.

Ms Kapoor further contended that the internet was full of content which was much more obscene and people should not single out the episode in question.

The Court countered that the internet was full of such obscene material only because the authorities have not yet devised a mechanism to stop such material, and the Court cannot accept this line of argument.

Counsel for Ms Kapoor placed reliance on Aneeta Hada vs Godfather Travels & Tours and held that she could not be prosecuted alone, without impleading the company, Alt Balaji.

However, the Court held that such submission was premature as the charge sheet has not been filed yet, and the matter was still under investigation. The Court also clarified that the case at hand was different from Anita Hada’s Case as the complainant cannot ensure that a company is arrayed as an accused.

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