On Tandav row, SC says freedom of speech not absolute

On Tandav row, SC says freedom of speech not absolute

The Supreme Court on Wednesday declined to grant interim protection from arrest to Ali Abbas Zafar, director of the web series Tandav, and others seeking quashing of FIRs against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments of Hindus and issued notices to Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and other states on their pleas.

A bench comprising justices Ashok Bhushan, R Subhash Reddy, and MR Shah was hearing as many as three separate petitions of Zafar, Amazon Prime India head Aparna Purohit, producer Himanshu Mehra, the show's writer Gaurav Solanki, and actor Mohammed Zeeshan Ayyub.

"Your right to freedom of speech is not absolute. You cannot play the role of a character that hurts the sentiments of a community," the bench said.

Besides seeking quashing of the FIRs, the pleas have sought clubbing of FIRs.

The bench has sought responses from states such as UP, MP, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Bihar, and Delhi on the pleas.

Tandav, a nine-episode political thriller starring Bollywood A-listers like Saif Ali Khan, Dimple Kapadia, and Mohd Zeeshan Ayyub, started streaming on January 15 on Amazon Prime Video.