After complaints from civilian groups, the government-appointed child rights body, the National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR), has asked Netflix to stop streaming its latest original web series Bombay Begums in India.
The child rights commission has also asked the streaming platform to come up with a detailed action report within 24 hours, failing which it will take “appropriate legal action”.
In a notice to Netflix, the commission has criticised its portrayal of children in Bombay Begum. According to a copy of the notice reviewed by PTI, the commission claimed that the content of the series not “only pollute(s) the young minds but may also result in abuse and exploitation of children”.
The commission said that it had to send notice to Netflix after receiving complaints that the series normalises minors indulging in casual sex and drug abuse.
“Netflix should take extra precaution while streaming any content in respect of the children or for the children and shall also refrain themselves from getting into such things,” the commission said in its notice.
“Therefore, you are directed to look into this matter and immediately stop streaming of this series and furnish a detailed action report within 24 hours, failing which the Commission will be constrained to initiate appropriate action pursuant to the provisions of Section 14 of the CPCR (Commission for Protection of Child Rights) Act, 2005,” the commission added in its notice.
According to IMDB, Bombay Begum is a TV series set in urban India (Mumbai), where five women, across generations, wrestle with desire, ethics, personal crises and vulnerabilities to own their ambition. It has a critic rating of 4.5 out of 10 on IMDB.
The Netflix original was initially aired on March 8 on the OTT Platform. It was directed by Lipstick Under My Burkha film-maker Alankrita Shrivastava.
Apart from Netflix, other OTT platforms such as Amazon Prime Video got into trouble for streaming controversial content. In January this year, Prime Video landed in the soup after a series of FIRs and legal suits were filed against its web series Tandav and Mirzapur in Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh. Following this, the information and broadcasting (I&B) ministry has reportedly summoned Amazon India executives to resolve these controversies.
Due to the increasing number of cases around the over-the-top (OTT) video streaming platforms, the Indian government is reportedly looking to transfer all pending cases in high courts to the Supreme Court.
The ongoing tussle between civil society groups, politicians and OTT platforms also forced the central government to formulate a new censorship law, allowing competent authorities to take down OTT content within 36 hours of receiving a complaint.
The noose around the social media and the OTT companies have been in the works for the past few months. In November last year, the central government brought digital news media and OTT platforms under the purview of the I&B Ministry. This had initially stoked fears of ‘censorship’ and ‘cuts’ for digital content among critics. However, with the mounting number of complaints and requests for censorship on streaming platforms, the regime of censorship is likely to prevail in India for a while now.