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Relief For Amazon India Head; Supreme Court Says "No Teeth" In OTT Rules

Government rules on social media and OTT (Over The Top) platforms "have no teeth" and thus no power for prosecution, said the Supreme Court as it granted relief from arrest to Amazon Prime Video's India head Aparna Purohit in the ongoing investigation against the web series 'Tandav'.
"There is no mechanism to control social media platforms. Without legislation you (government ) cannot control it," said the top court bench while hearing Ms Purohit's appeal against the Allahabad High Court's February 25 order declining anticipatory bail to her.

The bench of justices Ashok Bhushan and R S Reddy also issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government on Ms Purohit's plea for anticipatory bail in FIRs on Tandav series.

The Supreme Court had yesterday called for screening of video content on OTT platforms, saying "even pornograpic material is being shown" on some of them. There should be a mechanism to screen such programmes, the top court had said as it directed the Centre to place before it the recent guidelines of the government to regulate social media platforms.

Today the Supreme Court bench observed that the Centre's regulations on social media are mere guidelines and do not have provision for any action against digital platforms. "We have gone through your rules and it does not have any teeth. No power for prosecution. No mechanism to control violations," Justice Ashok Bhushan said after going through the submissions by the centre.

Justice Bhushan also asked the centre to submit new proposal to court with stronger provisions.

"The government will consider appropriate steps; any regulation on digital platforms will be placed before the court," replied Solicitor General Tushar Mehta.

The court also directed Ms Purohit to make Centre as a party to her plea.

During the hearing senior lawyer Mukul Rohatgi, appearing for Aparna Purohit, said that Amazon and Netflix do not show any porn. "Everyday evening I watch movies on OTT and they have great movies," he said.

"It is almost pornography," shot back Tushar Mehta.

Tandav is a nine-episode political thriller starring Bollywood A-listers Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub.

Ms Purohit has been accused of inappropriate depiction of Uttar Pradesh police personnel, Hindu deities and an adverse portrayal of a character playing the prime minister in the web series.

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