SC stays proceedings before High Courts on regulation of OTT content


The Supreme Court on Tuesday stayed the proceedings in pleas connected with the regulation of content on over-the-top (OTT) platforms in various High Courts.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta submitted before a bench headed by Justice D.Y. Chandrachud though the top court had issued notice on the Centre’s transfer plea to club all such petitions, yet the Punjab and High Court is proceeding in a pending matter.

The top court stayed further proceedings in various High Courts and said it will hear the matter in the second week after Holi.

The top court was hearing a clutch of pleas filed by advocate Shashank Shekhar Jha and NGO Justice for Rights Foundation, seeking regulation of content on OTT platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hotstar etc.

During the hearing, Mehta submitted that the transfer petition was filed by the government as more than one High Court was dealing with the matter. He added that it was learnt that High Courts had said they will proceed with the matter till it is stayed by the top court. The bench said when a notice is issued by the top court in a transfer, the judges often say the matter is pending before the Supreme Court.

The NGO, represented through advocate Satyam Singh, said: “The Rules framed by the Union Government are more in the nature of guidelines without any effective mechanism for its proper implementation. It does not provide for any penalty or punishment for violation of the Rules. Without legislation, there cannot be an effective control of content on OTT platforms.”

The NGO added that the intent of the government in bringing out guidelines for OTT platforms is indeed commendable, but it suffers from many flaws, defects and loopholes. “The Government of India has palpably failed to take into consideration the screening of content telecast on OTT platforms. In view of lack of proper screening mechanism, the OTT platforms show content which is vulgar, pornographic and profane. The screening of content telecast on OTT platforms are indispensable and need of the hour,” added the NGO’s rejoinder.