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Sacred Games: Petitioner demands online content regulatory board after Netflix refuses to censor dialogue

Nikhil Bhalla, the advocate petitioning to remove certain dialogues from Netflix’s Sacred Games, has now amended his petition to ask the government to create a regulatory board for online streaming companies. Bhalla confirmed the amendment to MediaNama. The next hearing for this case will be held on October 20.

The Indian government is examining regulating online content through an IT Ministry committee, after an online content regulation committee set up by the I&B Ministry was disbanded. In July, we reported that the I&B Ministry had disbanded its online content regulation committee, which was set up in April by former I&B Minister Smriti Irani. Following a cabinet reshuffle, Rajyavardhan Rathore took over from Irani, leading the ministry to switch to a softer tone on regulating online content. An RTI filing by Medianama revealed that the committee hadn’t met even once.

Read:
Some Video on Demand cos want to create a regulatory content code before the government does it
As India looks to regulate Internet content, some issues to consider

A timeline of the case

  • On 8 August, Chander Lal, the senior advocate representing Netflix, told the Delhi HC, “My instructions are that we don’t want to change the word.” The judges hearing the case were quoted as saying during arguments, “Nobody is pressing or forcing you. You take your own decision, whether you want to change the word or not. We are not going to compel you.”
  • In the 16 July hearing, Netflix told the court that it had replaced the English subtitle for the Hindi word ‘fattu’, now translated as ‘wimp’, used to describe the former Prime Minister. That change had been made before the petition was filed in the Court.
  • On 11 July, advocate and petitioner Nikhil Bhalla filed a PIL in the Delhi HC asking for certain scenes to be deleted from the Netflix Sacred Games series. Bhalla said that these scenes were “derogatory to former PM Rajiv Gandhi.” In one line, for instance, the character Ganesh Gaitonde calls Rajiv Gandhi a wimp in Hindi, which a previous version of the subtitles translated as ‘pussy’. Bhalla petitioned for the scenes with such dialogue to be removed. The petitioners had to justify that the PIL was in public interest.

 

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I cover the digital content ecosystem and telecom for MediaNama.

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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