Supreme Court Allows Withdrawal of Plea Seeking Regulation of OTT Content

SC Permits Withdrawal of Plea on OTT Content Regulation in Shri Kant Bhati v. Union of India; Petitioner Granted Liberty for Representation.

In a significant development today, the Supreme Court of India has granted permission for the withdrawal of a plea seeking regulation of inappropriate content on Over-The-Top (OTT) platforms. The decision was made by a Bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Sandeep Mehta, who also granted liberty to the petitioner to make a representation to the Union of India.

The petition, filed in public interest, raised concerns over the publication of inappropriate content on popular OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, and others. During the hearing, the petitioner's counsel brought forth the critical issue, questioning whether OTT platforms should be allowed to disseminate content unsuitable for all age groups without any restrictions.

The counsel highlighted that certain movies available on OTT platforms feature explicit nudity, which can be accessed freely by viewers of all ages. This raised concerns about the absence of adequate viewer control mechanisms on these platforms.

Responding to queries from Justice Mehta regarding the necessity for court intervention in establishing viewer control, the petitioner's counsel affirmed the need for such direction from the court.

However, Justice Gavai suggested a different approach, advising the petitioner to first make a representation to the government regarding the matter. This suggestion found agreement from the petitioner's counsel, who sought permission to make the appropriate representation and return with the outcome.

In light of the discussions, the Bench granted permission for the withdrawal of the petition. Simultaneously, it extended liberty to the petitioner to approach the Union of India with a representation concerning the grievances raised in the petition. The Bench clarified that any decision on the representation, when submitted, would be made in accordance with the law.

Importantly, the court emphasized that the rejection of the representation by the government would not hinder the petitioner from approaching the court again in the future.

Before concluding the proceedings, Justice Mehta observed that the petitioner's concerns appeared to be primarily directed towards a specific movie. However, the petitioner's counsel clarified that while the petition may seem focused on one particular instance, the broader issue at hand pertains to the general publication of nudity on OTT platforms.