Plea in Delhi HC calls for regulation of content on Netflix, Amazon Prime & Ors [Read Petition]

Plea in Delhi HC calls for regulation of content on Netflix, Amazon Prime & Ors [Read Petition]

Meera Emmanuel

Vulgar, vile and violent content on online platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. have run into trouble again, this time by way of petition in the Delhi High Court.

An NGO, Justice for Rights, has filed a petition through Advocate Harpreet Singh Hora, calling for the High Court’s intervention to clamp down on the “unregulated, uncertified, sexually explicit, vulgar, profane and legally restricted content broadcasted on the online platforms including (but not limited to) Netflix, Amazon Prime Video etc.).

Echoing concerns expressed by a similar challenge before the Bombay High Court, the petition points out that in the absence of any regulations or certifying authorities,

“… [the] said online platforms stream content which is full of vulgarity, sexually explicit, pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden, morally unethical, depictive of women in objectifying manner, content which is deliberately created with scenes of nudity, scripts containing abusive language in order to attract more subscribers and generate profit.

In particular, the petitioner has referred to shows such as Sacred Games, Vikings, Game of Thrones and Spartacus, to cite examples of such pornographic, profane, virulent, religiously forbidden and morally unethical content. The petitioner has also raised the issue of such content being accessible to minors.

“An instance can be taken from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” where the scene depicting animal (the holy ‘Cow’) abuse is available for view (for viewers of age 7 years and above) on Amazon Prime Video.”

The petition goes on to argue that such content not only disregards the reasonable restrictions contained in Article 19 (2) of the Constitution, it also contravenes laws such as the Indian Penal Code, the Information Technology (IT) Act, 2000 and the Indecent Representation of Women (Prohibition) Act, 1986.

The petitioner had filed an RTI representation with the Union IT Ministry to discern the laws regulating such online shows. However, the IT Ministry responded by intimating that the responsibility to exercise diligence lay on the intermediaries, and not the Government under Section 79 of the IT Act. However, the petition points out that the no such diligence is exercised by the intermediaries. Further, it is noted,

That section 79 of the IT Act does not apply to all the online platforms in the present case as a blanket provision as the platforms stream third-party content and also give self- generated content.”

On these grounds, the petitioner has prayed that the High Court either frame regulatory guidelines for online shows or direct that the concerned authorities do the same. Further, it has been prayed that the objectionable content on online shows be removed, and that such shows be banned until regulatory laws/guidelines are put in place.

The petition was listed before the High Court on Monday. However, it was not taken up since the Bench did not assemble. The matter is expected to be taken up next on November 14.

Read the Petition:

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