AIB roast: Police register FIR against actors, complainant's lawyer says show was 'pre-scripted'

After a Mumbai court on Thursday ordered the registration of an FIR against 14 people including actors Ranveer Singh, Arjun Kapoor, Deepika Padukone and Karan Johar over their participation in the AIB roast, the Mumbai police has registered a case under the relevant sections.

According to a press release sent by lawyer Abha Singh, who filed the complaint on behalf social activist Santosh Daundkar, the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Girgaon court, ordered the police to file an FIR based on Daundkar's complaint.

An Indian Express report quotes S Jaykumar, deputy commissioner of police told the paper, as saying,  “We have registered the FIR as ordered by the court under the relevant sections which would be investigated.”

All India Bakchod (AIB) a popular comedy group had held a roast (a comedy event where a celebrity is mocked) of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh in a stadium in December 2014 and later uploaded the video on YouTube. After a police complaint in Pune, the group took down the YouTube video, which had had over 8 million hits.

A screengrab from the video that was subsequently taken down.

A screengrab from the video that was subsequently taken down.

According to Abha Singh's press statement, the show was 'pre-scripted' and vulgar, obscene and pornographic.

She also raised the issue in her complaint that the AIB roast could not be justified under the argument of free speech because the current law does not allow for such obscene speech.

She said in the complaint, "If they (advocates of free speech) think that law on obscenity is improper and constrains freedom of speech and expression then the right course for them is to approach the government for changing the law...these votaries of free speech cannot take law in their own hands and then utter pornographic words in front of women audience, more so at the time when the entire country is concerned with women safety."

The complaint also says that "crimes against women are being influenced by such obscene and pornographic happenings" and that such a show should not have been allowed on land that has been leased out by the government to be used for sports, etc.

Abha Singh told Indian Express,"Even actresses Deepika and Alia Bhatt who were in the audience might have been given scripts and cues to laugh. Now the police should seize the script, computers and other documents related to the show."

According to the report, social activist Santosh Daundkar has previously been involved in other complaints like the Adarsh Housing Society case, Shah Rukh Khan's Mumbai bungalow and the purchase of bullet-proof jackets for Mumbai Police after November 2008 terror attacks among others.

The FIR has been filed against president of National Sports Council of India (NSCI) Jayantilal Shah, secretary general NSCI Ravinder Aggarwal and participants in the AIB Roast including Karan Johar, Ranveer Singh, Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhatt, Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya, Aditi Mittal, Deepika Padukone, Aalia Bhatt, Rajeev Masand, Arjun Kapoor.

The police will now investigate the matter under the following sections:

Section 120-B Indian Penal Code, 1860, and section 34 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860: This deals with hatching criminal conspiracy for putting up a pre-scripted public performance of a pornographic, vulgar and obscene programme with a common intention of the accused persons.

Section 294 and 509 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860: For speaking vulgar, obscene and pornographic words before a large number of women audience in a public event.

Section 67 and 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2000: For having putting up an obscene, pornographic and vulgar show on the internet.

Section 33, 131, 110 of the Bombay Police Act, 1951 and violation of Rule 21-A of the Rules for Keeping Places of Public entertainment in Greater Bombay, 1953: For holding a public performance of a pornographic, vulgar and obscene character notwithstanding the fact that the rules ban such public performances.

Section 15 of the Environment Protection Act, 1986: For effecting an illegal change of use of the land in a Coastal Regulation Zone area, without approval from the Competent Authority where a land designated to be used for sports activities was illegally put to commercial use for holding a pornographic, vulgar and obscene programme. (Punishment upto 5 years).

Section 52 of the Maharashtra Regional and Town Planning Act, 1966: For effecting the change of use of a land meant for sports activities and putting it to commercial use for holding a pornographic, vulgar and obscene programme. (Punishment upto 3 years).

The AIB roast issue could also impact YouTube in a big way as another petition has be filed by a law professor Sharmila Ghuge in Mumbai stating that there should be guidelines against obscene videos on the social media site.

The Bombay High Court where the petition was filed has asked the I&B ministry for its response.

According to a Hindu report, Ghuge said in the PIL  that the film stars had made a deliberate attempt to lower the dignity of women "by showing their insensitive attitude towards the most heinous crime of rape by passing several jokes on rape and gang rape enjoying the flavor of humour for the most unfortunate act any women can ever face in her life."

The AIB roast controversy has seen a massive outcry, with many pointing out that while the jokes might have been obscene, to lodge a criminal case against AIB and others involved in the roast is wrong and against freedom of speech. While the debate on the issue will continue, how this issue plays out will depend on the police investigation in the matter and what the cops submit to the court.

Updated Date: Feb 13, 2015 10:20 AM

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