SC asks for law on OTTs, says the regulations suggested have 'no teeth'

A day after underscoring the need for screening the programmes telecast on OTT (Over-The-Top) platforms, especially pornographic content, the Supreme Court on Friday came down heavily on the new regulations submitted by the Centre to deal with the OTT and social media.

It said that the regulations have "no teeth" but were only guidelines; and there was no mechanism to ensure that "objectionable content" is not screened online.
A Bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and R Subhash Reddy, which had sought the regulations framed last week for its perusal, directed the Centre to come out either with the new regulations or an Act of Parliament.
In an indirect slap to the government which was trying to deal with the issue through an executive order, it said: "It cannot be done without a legislation." It asked the government to frame some stringent law, telling the Centre: "Consider bringing a legislation to control contents of social media and OTT platforms."

It also granted protection from arrest to OTT platform Amazon Prime India head Aparna Purohit, who had sought anticipatory bail in connection with the FIRs registered against her over the controversial Tandav web series.

The court told Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the centre, "We have received the rules you (government) have filed. These rules don't have any teeth. There is no provision for prosecution or punishment in case of violation. They are just guidelines."
The Solicitor General sought two weeks’ time to come up with a better draft of the rules for the court's consideration.
The court order said: "One issue that has cropped up is uncontrolled viewing of scenes on Prime Video. Union of India has issued a notification -- the Rules. The rules are in the nature of guidelines, with no provision for effective regulation of screening or taking appropriate action. Rules don't list anything about appropriate action to be taken against those who don't abide by the guidelines. Solicitor General has submitted that steps will be taken for the same and it shall be placed before the court."

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