The Supreme Court issued a notice to the central government on the regulation of uncertified and sexually explicit content on online streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Earlier, a similar plea seeking ban on streaming platforms until regulations were framed was dismissed by the Delhi High Court on February 8. The High Court dismissed the plea after the government told the court that online platforms were not required to acquire a licence from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The Law and Justice ministry had also noted that the case was not under its purview.

Arguing in the High Court, the petitioner had contented that series like Sacred Games, Game of Thrones and Spartacus broadcast on platforms such as Netflix, contained sexually explicit content and depicted women in an objectionable manner, further adding that such content had not even been passed by the Central Board for Film Certification.

The petitioner, NGO Justice for Rights Foundation, had thereafter moved the apex court challenging the High Court order.

The petitioner through its advocate HS Hora stated, “The said online platforms are displaying unlicensed, unregulated, uncertified content and collecting subscription amounts from Indian consumers whereas the content telecast on the online platforms is illegal to the extent that certain movies are banned under the provisions of the Indian Cinematograph Act.”

The PIL has also alleged that the content of several show on OTT platforms violates provisions of the Indian Penal Code(IPC) and the Information Technology Act.

In January 2019, leading platforms like Netflix, Hotstar, ALTBalaji, Voot, Arre and Sonyliv had come together with a self-regulatory/ self-censorship code to regulate the video content on their respective platforms in order to avoid potential government censorship, later. All signed a self-regulatory Code of Best Practices under the aegis of Inter and Mobile Association of India.

A similar appeal, pending before the Karnataka High Court had also asked for regulation of content on the streaming platforms, earlier this year.