FIRs against AIB Knockout event: Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor move Bombay HC, plead ‘freedom of speech’https://indianexpress.com/article/india/firs-against-aib-knockout-event-ranveer-singh-and-arjun-kapoor-move-hc-plead-freedom-of-speech-5068188/

FIRs against AIB Knockout event: Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor move Bombay HC, plead ‘freedom of speech’

FIRs allege that the show’s content was ‘vulgar’, ‘obscene’ and ‘pornographic’

Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor at AIB knockout event
Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor at the AIB knockout event

Actors Ranveer Singh and Arjun Kapoor have approached the Bombay High Court seeking quashing of the FIRs lodged against them in Mumbai and Pune in 2015, for allegedly using obscene and abusive language during the comedy event AIB Knockout held in Mumbai in December 2014. The petition states, “The complaint and FIR have been initiated wrongfully, mischievously, with ulterior motives, and in complete violation of the spirit of Freedom of Speech.” It adds, “…the material alleged as obscene by the complainant (a social activist Santosh Daundkar) does not arouse any lustful, impure or lecherous (thoughts). Merely because slang and vulgar language is used, it does not become obscene…”

The petition also states that no member of the audience had filed a complaint against the content of the programme. The event was meant for an adult audience and notices and disclaimer regarding this were issued prior to the broadcast. The FIR violates fundamental rights of Freedom of Speech and profession of the petitioners, it added. Lawyer Ashwin Thool, representing Singh and Kapoor, mentioned the matter before Justice Rajendra Savant on Friday, after which the case was listed for hearing in the first week of March. On December, 20, 2014, Singh and Kapoor, along with 10 co-artistes including Karan Johar and the AIB team, had performed a charity event AIB-The Roast at Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Worli. On January 20, 2015, the video of the event was uploaded on YouTube, which went viral.

In February 2015, Daundkar had filed a complaint with the Chief Metropolitan Magistrate of Girgaon court, claiming that the show was ‘pre-scripted’, ‘vulgar’, ‘obscene’ and ‘pornographic’. A court-ordered FIR was filed at Tardeo police station against all artistes.

Another FIR was lodged on February 5, 2015, at Bund Garden police station in Pune. The FIR has been filed under Section 292 (Distribution of obscene content or lascivious or appeals to the prurient interest), Section 294 (Obscene Act in public place) of the Indian Penal Code, various sections under the Bombay Police Act, and Section 67 and 67a of the IT Act (publishing or transmitting of material containing sexually explicit act, et cetera in electronic form).

In 2015, four AIB artistes — Tanmay Bhatt, Gursimran Khamba, Ashish Shakya and Rohan Joshi — along with actress Deepika Padukone, had approached the High Court seeking quashing of the FIR. The court had then directed the police to not take any coercive action against the petitioners, but to carry on with the investigation.