The Allahabad High Court on Friday, December 10, 2021 quashed the First Information Report (FIR) registered against Farhan Akhar and Ritesh Sidhwani, producers of web series Mirzapur, in a case registered against them for allegedly hurting religious, social and regional sentiments through their portrayal of the town of Mirzapur in Uttar Pradesh in the web series [Ritesh Sidhwani and Another v. State of UP].
A Division Bench of Justices MC Tripathi and Justice Subhash Vidyarthi also quashed the FIR against Karan Anshuman, Gurmeet Singh, Puneet Krishna and Vineet Krishna who were responsible for the writing and directing two seasons of the show.
Sidhwani, the co-founder of Excel Entertainment, which produced Mirzapur, and Akhtar had approached the High Court after an FIR was registered for offences under Sections 295A (deliberate and malicious acts, intended to outrage religious feelings of any class by insulting its religion or religious beliefs), 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) and 505 (statements conducing to public mischief) of Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The allegation in the FIR was that the web series portrayed the town of Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh in an indecent and improper manner.
The FIR was lodged on January 17 in Mirzapur, Uttar Pradesh based on a complaint by one Arvind Chaturvedi who had alleged that ‘certain’ content in the series depicted the town of Mirzapur as antisocial and infested with crime and that the show promotes illicit relationships, portrays a polluted picture of the legal and judicial system.
The portrayal of Mirzapur in the show in such a manner is far away from reality of life in Mirzapur. As such the show "has hurt his sentiments”, the complainant had stated.
The producers had initially approached the High Court challenging the FIR, followed by the directors and writers.
In challenging the FIR, the petitioners had pointed out that the series was purely a work of fiction, which was also clarified by way of a disclaimer at the start of each episode. It was pointed out that the said disclaimer also stated that the makers of the show respect all faiths and religions and that all places and events in the said series are completely fictional.
Earlier this year, the court had granted interim protection to the petitioners by way of two separate orders.
The matter was argued by Senior Advocate Manish Tiwary, Senior Advocate Gopal Chaturvedi, assisted by Advocates Imran Ibrahim and Jay Bhardwaj.