The Rajasthan High Court on Monday ordered police to not take any coercive action against Bollywood film director Prakash Jha over an FIR lodged against him allegedly for hurting Dalit sentiments by objectionable depiction of the community in his web series Ashram. Jha has been given relief till the next hearing of his plea for quashing the FIR against him at the Luni police station in Jodhpur.
The Jodhpur bench of the High Court which was hearing the plea also issued notices to the complainant and the state government seeking their replies to Jha’s plea within six weeks. The complainant had objected to a scene in the first episode of the series in which some upper caste people are seen insuting and humiliating a Dalit community bridegroom pproceeding in his wedding procession on a horse. The complainant said that scene not only humiliates the Dalit community but also encourages abusive behaviour of the upper caste people. In the FIR against Jha, stringent charges under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 too have been invoked.
Jha’s counsel Nishant Bora argued that the police did not have to inoke sections under the SC/ST Act as it was not a real case of anyone insulting anyone but only the portrayal of a fictional situation.
Ashram sees actor Bobby Deol essay the role of a self-styled godman, convicted to life imprisonment for raping a minor in his Ashram. Jha is also facing a second plea in which he has been accused of hurting Hindu sentiments. The complainant argued that Bobby Deol’s character as a rapist, corrupt and drug dealer has hampered the image and place of saints held by Hindus. The court, however, has refused to direct police to file an FIR and instead issued notices to Jha and Deol, seeking their replies to the allegations.
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