Supreme court has issued a notice to center to regulate the content on video streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, renewing a debate on censorship and freedom of expressions. A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notices to the ministries of broadcasting, law, and communications on an appeal challenging the February 8 order of Delhi High Court order which had dismissed it. The petition that has been filed by a Non-Governmental Organisation seeking the government’s response and also alleged that the online video streaming platforms show “uncertified, sexually explicit and vulgar” content.
The plea filed by NGO has claimed the lack of regulation for the web-exclusive content, the platforms were streaming shows full of ‘vulgarity, religiously forbidden and morally unethical. The NGO named Justice For Rights Foundation was represented by advocate Harpreet Singh Hora. “The said online platforms are displaying unlicensed, unregulated, uncertified content and collecting subscription amounts from Indian consumers. The absence of guidelines has given rise to a special class of broadcasters and this discriminates against customers, cable TV producers, and direct-to-home operators. The PIL has also alleged that the content of several shows on the online platform violated provisions of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) and the Information Technology Act.
In January, online platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, Jio and ALTBalaji and Eros Now signed a voluntary censorship code that stops them from showing certain kinds of content. They also set up a redressal mechanism for complaints. The Delhi High Court had dismissed the plea after it was informed by the central government that the online platforms were neither required to obtain a license from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The plea had claimed in the HC that television series like “Game of Thrones”,” Sacred Games” and “Spartacus”, shown on Netflix contain profane, pornographic, sexually explicit, morally unethical and virulent” content which often “describe women in an objectifying manner”.