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Court seeks Centre’s view on screening YouTube videos

Hearing a public interest litigation petition against the AIB Roast programme on Tuesday, the Bombay High Court sought the opinion of the Union Information and Broadcasting Ministry on a mechanism to keep a check on video uploads on YouTube.

The petitioner, Sharmila Ghuge, a Professor of Law, has sought guidelines for such a mechanism to screen obscene and vulgar content. Professor Ghuge submitted a copy of the CD of the AIB Roast held in Mumbai last December. The videos of the programme were uploaded on YouTube on January 28.

The crux of the case, as regards Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000, could open a fresh debate on what constitutes decent humour. Sources said the response of the Centre was likely to be along the lines of what had been argued in the Supreme Court thus far.

In the present case, the High Court admitted an intervention petition filed by the AIB (All India Bakchod). “We oppose this [PIL] petition. It was a humorous show for a private audience. None of the private audience found it offensive. The language was excessive, but within the bounds of humour,” senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, appearing for the organisation, said.

The AIB will file a reply, if any, to the petition and the Ministry its opinion within two weeks. The court will hear the case on March 3.

Shyam Dewane, petitioner’s lawyer, said a mechanism was required to filter out vulgar and obscene videos from YouTube. The court thereafter sought the Union government’s say.

“The video of the AIB show has not been verified by any of the authorities, whether the content of the video is suitable to be thrown open to public at large … Neither the organisers nor the respondents felt the need and importance of verifying the content before putting the video on air… ,” the petition said.

The plea has sought punishment under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and the Representation of Women Act. However, for the AIB to be found guilty under any of these sections, by judicial precedents, the petitioner has to prove an “intention to insult” before the video is uploaded.

Plea against AIB Roast seeks check

on obscene content

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