Mumbai: The Madras high court on Monday observed there was prima facie evidence to show that an 'obscene' performance was held during the inaugural ceremony of IPL 5 in Chennai in April.
Justice Kirubakaran was not satisfied when counsel for Bollywood actors Salman Khan, Priyanka Chopra and Amitabh Bachchan said that the choreographers designed the content of the programme and they performed as per the agreement they entered with the contractors.
"The performance was according to the agreement and the instructions of the choreographers. The choice of dress was not that of the actors," said counsel for the actors.
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They further maintained there was nothing obscene about the performance. However, the judge asked, "Is it right for you to perform with two piece dress just because the choreographers suggested."
After seeing the photos produced by Neelamegam, counsel for the petitioner, the judge said there is prima facie evidence for the case.
Petitioner K Jebakumar had sought initiation of criminal action against the Bollywood actors, cricketers and other celebrities besides BCCI office bearers for the 'obscene' performance during the inaugural ceremony.
Centre told the court that Information and Broadcasting Ministry had set up an Electronic Media Monitoring Centre for monitoring any violation of programmes under Cable TV Networks Act 1995.
I&B Ministry under secretary DC Pathak submitted the Act regulated programmes and advertisements by prescribing programme code.
Various guidelines also had been issued to comply with the programme and advertising code. Though the act does not provide for pre-censorship, there were codes to be followed.
He was responding to the court's directive to reply on the plea seeking action against BCCI and others for telecasting inaugural function of IPL 5 with 'obscene' dances, whether there was any mechanism to regulate broadcasters from broadcasting contents that were obscene.
A committee had also been formed, under the additional secretary of Information and Broadcasting, to take cognisance suo motu or into specific complaints regarding violation of programme code.
Besides the News Broadcasters Association had also formulated code of ethics and broadcasting standards. The Indian Broadcasting Foundation, which represented non-news private TV channels, had also set up a mechanism of self-regulation.
The Broadcast Content Complaints council, made operational from July 1, 2011, with 13 members, headed by a retired Supreme Court judge, was powerful, said Wilson, Counsel for Central government.
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Senior counsel P S Raman, appearing for BCCI, said photographers who covered the function would have taken pictures in their own angle. The pictures were taken out of context.
"The pictures were taken by professional photographers, who had access to the stage. They could zoom and take photos from a different angle. These images were not seen by the audience. Pre-censoring live telecast is not possible," he argued.
However, advocate Neelamegam asserted that the photos were taken from public domain and were already published in newspapers.
Additional Solicitor General (ASG) P Wilson said the Union government did not receive any complaints on the contents of the inauguration ceremony, telecast.
The ASG further said the Union government monitored and regulated the programmes and advertisements telecast through the Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act, 1995. "But pre-censorship is not possible," he said.
The Judge stressed the need for an autonomous body to regulate the contents of TV programmes, and asked the ASG to find how many complaints had been received about violations by broadcasters, and posted the case for hearing on October 15.
He also asked Tamil Nadu advocate Prabha to file a report if any complaint about violation by broadcasters of programmes other than news had been received by various district officials.
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The under secretary did not want to comment on the opinion of the petitioner that the government had allowed telecast of 'obscene' scenes live. However, he said no complaint had been received from any quarter regarding the contents of the programmes telecast by a Television channel.
The regulatory mechanism was definitely in place, he said and urged the court not to give any adverse direction against the Information and Broadcasting Ministry.