OTT norms lack teeth, penal provisions needed, says SC

By Express News Service
NEW DELHI:  The Supreme Court on Friday said the Centre’s guidelines to regulate the functioning of digital platforms are weak as they don’t offer any mechanism to block objectionable content or stipulate penal provisions for those who violate the norms. A bench headed by Justice Ashok Bhushan noted the rules were more in the form of an advisory, and not law.

“These rules do not talk about prosecution or punishment in case of a violation. It cannot be done without a legislation,” the bench told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing the Centre. The court was hearing a plea by Aparna Purohit, India head of Amazon Prime, for anticipatory bail in connection with FIRs against her over the controversial web series Tandav.

There are two FIRs filed against her — one each in Greater Noida and Lucknow. The hearing also witnessed some sharp exchanges between Mehta and senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Purohit. On the court’s remark on Thursday that some over-the-top (OTT) platforms were showing even pornography, Rohatgi said it is not true.

“There is no such thing on Amazon Prime and Netflix. I see them every evening. There is no such content,” Rohatgi said. “The Bench meant pornographic,” said Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Central government. “I see so many shows. There is no pornography,” Rohatgi averred. On Thursday, the Supreme Court had expressed concern over adult content on some OTT platforms, saying there should be a mechanism to prevent such programmes from being streamed.

Reprieve for PurohitSC gave Amazon Prime India head Aparna Purohit interim protection from arrest but directed her to cooperate with police investigation