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After meeting Netflix, child rights body refers Bombay Begums ban to Mumbai Police

After meeting Netflix officials on Wednesday, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights is pressing ahead on its ban of the show, firing off a missive to Mumbai Police demanding a ban of the show. MediaNama has obtained a copy of the letter, whose authenticity was verified by its author, Priyank Kanoongo, chairperson of the NCPCR. After some right wing handles complained about the show, NCPCR sent a notice to Netflix to take the show down within 24 hours for its depiction of a 13 year old undergoing body image issues and abusing substances in a party. Netflix met the commission on Wednesday to explain that the depiction was intended to serve as a cautionary tale, but the NCPCR doesn’t appear convinced.

Within seven days, NCPCR said, Mumbai Police should file an action-taken report. Netflix declined to comment on the referral.

Full letter by NCPCR to Mumbai Police

Shri Param Bir Singh,
Commissioner of Police,
Mumbai Police
Email id: cp.mumbai@mahapolice.gov.in

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Commission’) is a statutory body constituted under Section 3 of the Commission for Protection of Child Rights (CPCR) Act, 2005 to protect the child rights and other related matters in the Country. The Commission is further mandated to monitor the proper and effective implementation of Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, 2012; Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 and Right to Free and Compulsory Education (RTE) Act, 2009.

The Commission is in receipt of a complaint from two Twitter handles in regard to Series “Bombay Begum” streaming on Netflix, wherein the children were found to be indulged in snorting drugs and taking indecent pictures and selfies in the classroom. In this regard, the Commission was of the view that representing, portraying and glorifying children in India in such a manner on any media platform/internet/OTTs, etc. cannot be tolerated and it should not be allowed. As the series with this type of content would not only pollute young minds of the children, and may also result into abuse and exploitation of children at the hands of the perpetrator(s)/offender(s).

This being a serious matter, having taken cognizance of the Tweets, under Section 13 (1) (j) of CPCR Act, 2005 the Commission directed the Netflix to look into this matter and immediately stop streaming of this series and furnish a detailed action taken report within 24 hours. Further, Netflix was also directed to take extra precaution while streaming any content in respect to the children or for the children and shall also refrain themselves from getting into such things.

In pursuant to the aforesaid notice and request thereto of Netflix a meeting was convened on 16.03.2021 in NCPCR office to discuss the issues pertaining to representing and portrayal of children in the series “Bombay Begums” and circulation of its scenes on media which are objectionable and in contravention to the law of the land.

After detailed deliberation, the Commission is of the view that some scenes of the series are in violation of relevant Sections of JJ Act, 2015, POCSO Act, 2012 and IPC, 1860 as minor children were used in these scenes.

Further, in one of the scene (in Episode 3 at 16:25 onwards) a minor girl was smoking cigarette which is in violation of Section 77 of JJ Act, 2015. Therefore, you are requested to investigate/inquire to ensure that no child labour laws/any other relevant laws or guidelines to regulate participation of children in TV, etc. is violated at the time of shooting of this series.

Further, an ATR in this regard may be furnished within 7 days of issue of this letter, failing which the Commission will be constrained to initiate proceedings under section 14 of CPCR Act, 2005.

(Priyank Kanoongo)
Chairperson, NCPCR

Update (11:07am): Updated with Netflix refusal to comment’s.

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