Updated: February 18, 2015 9:45:34 am
Mumbai-based comedy group AIB, in a petition filed in the Bombay High Court, said while the “roast” format of comedy was new in India, it had been in existence since 1949, with the first ever roast taking place in New York.
“AIB did not intend to insult the modesty of any woman. Further, none of the women on whom the jokes were made raised any grievance about the same. In light of the aforesaid, the ingredients of Section 509 (insult to modesty of women) of the Indian Penal Code are also not attracted,” they said.
Their petition stated that the Merriam-Webster dictionary recognised the roast comedy art form with a definition expanding to include “to honour (a person) at a roast”.
AIB’s petition, which came up for hearing on Tuesday, is a result of an FIR that was lodged at the Tardeo Police Station in Mumbai against AIB and some other co-accused. The FIR was lodged under various legal provisions, ranging from obscenity and outraging the modesty of a woman to violations under the Environment Protection Act and Maharashtra Town Planning Act.
The high court on Tuesday restrained the police from arresting the members on the basis of the FIR filed in Mumbai.
The petition, which was filed through their lawyer Ashwin Thool, also elaborates on the stand-up comic style of comedy. The roast form, which became the basis of AIB’s show, could be performed in three ways, the petition said.
“This style of comedy falls under the genre of adult comedy, wherein the performer (or performers) draws laughter from jokes cracked either at the expense of the performer, also known as self-deprecatory humour. It can also be at the expense of the audience. In addition, the jokes can cracked at the expense of someone who is subject to the roast,” it read.
AIB members – Rohan Joshi, Tanmay Bhat, Ashish Shakya and Gursimran Khamba – also said that the show labeled as “obscene” in the FIR, did not deprave and corrupt those minds which were open to such immoral influences.
“Mere use of offensive language does not constitute an offence under Section 294 (obscenity) of the Indian Penal Code,” the petitions stated.
The comic artistes, in their petition, questioned the application of Section 66 of the Information Technology Act that provides for punishment for sending offensive messages through a computer resource or a communication device.
The concert was a ticketed one and nobody in the audience who attended the concert has registered any complaint, the petition further said. “Further, one can only by their own voluntary act view the video on Youtube,” it said.
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