Bombay High Court Asks Government to Reply to Public Interest Litigation Against ‘AIB Roast’ Comedy Show

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Mumbai:  The Bombay High Court, on Tuesday, has asked the Centre, and the Maharashtra government, as well as the Information & Broadcasting Ministry to respond to a petition seeking action against organisers of All India Bakchod (AIB)’s roast show, held in Mumbai on December 20 last year in which allegedly obscene and vulgar words were used by participants and women’s dignity was tarnished.

Hearing a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), a bench, headed by Justice VM Kanade, asked the authorities to file their reply before March 3, when the matter would be heard again.

The court has also allowed AIB to intervene, and reply to the allegations made in the PIL.

The PIL filed by Dr Sharmila Ghuge, a social activist and law college faculty member, alleged that the show was viewed by more than ten million people after it was telecast on video sharing website YouTube on January 28.

The show featured actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, and producer-director Karan Johar.

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The petitioner said that the show featured many film stars, and participants allegedly using obscene words and shared indecent jokes, “which was extremely offensive not only to the dignity of women but also to the basic values cherished in our country.”

The content, repeated several times during the show, violates the provisions of section 292 and 294 of the Indian Penal Code as well as other provisions of law. Moreover, adverse comments passed on various communities not only violate section 295-A of the IPC but also deeply hurt the sentiments of the public at large, the petition alleged.

Similarly, the use of “smutty and vulgar gestures during the show and indecorous and undignified remarks” on women with reference to rape violates section 23 of Indecent Representation of Women’s Act, the PIL alleged.

The petitioner sought action against the organisers and participants of the show and also urged the authorities to issue guidelines to monitor such video programmes on YouTube, and similar video networks.

Senior counsel Mahesh Jethmalani, who appeared for AIB, argued that the programme was full of humour and entertained the audience. A few words alleged to have been obscene should not deter authorities from banning the show, he said.

The counsel for the petitioner, Sham Devan, said though the show had a lot of humour content, it transgressed all the limits of decency and allegedly had the tendency to deprave the minds of young people. If such shows are allowed to be telecast it would bring a decline in the cultural values of  society and hurt the dignity of women, he argued.

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