A screenshot from the Knockout video

AIB Knockout, was hosted at National Sports Club of India’s (NSCI) Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel Stadium in Worli, Mumbai on 20 December 2014 and portions of it were uploaded on YouTube on 28 January 2015. The show began with Karan Johar asking audience to leave if they might be offended by the “foul-horrific things” which was to follow and similarly the video began with a specific disclaimer to the effect that the video was “filthy, rude, and offensive”. So, neither the viewers who spent upto four thousand rupees to watch the live show at Mumbai nor the ones who watched the show on YouTube can complain of being forced to consume the alleged vulgarity or obscenity.

After having received over 8 million YouTube views, the videos were taken down which AIB in a statement termed as a ‘pragmatic’ decision. As per reports, along with protests of certain Christian and Hindu organisations several FIRs have been lodged against those involved with the show. A Mumbai based law teacher Sharmila Ghuge has also filed a PIL before Bombay High Court seeking action against AIB.

Legal Procedures Involved:

It is said that a stage performance in Mumbai requires fourteen permissions which includes a ‘performance license’ which has to be obtained from the Commissioner of Police which is the licensing authority. The license application has to be accompanied with a ‘certificate of suitability of the script’ which has to be obtained from the Board if the show has a script. The Board can refuse the certificate of suitability if it considers that the performance is against decency or morality, involves defamation of any person (living or deceased) of repute or is grossly indecent, scurrilous or obscene. As per some reports, the Board chairperson has said that no such permission was obtained and consequently a notice has been sent to the NSCI asking how an uncertified live show was allowed to be run. While, as per some other reports, Mumbai Police has alleged the license was obtained by the based on a script which was not same as the one performed on stage. Police has asked for and is investigation the original unedited script.

Rule 117. Application for Performance License:

(1) The application for a Performance License shall be made to the Licensing Authority for performance and shall be accompanied by :

(a) in the case of performance which have written scripts a true copy of the certificate of suitability of the script from the Board;
(b) in the case of performance which have no written scripts, synopsis of each of the various items of the performance intended to be performed, staged, produced or exhibited together with a true copy of the certificate or suitability of the synopsis of these items from the Board ;

This license, even if the above certificate has been obtained, can be refused if the performances mentioned in the application are considered by the authority as ‘indecent or of a scurrilous character’ or ‘contain offensive reference to personalities’ or ‘wound the susceptibilities of followers of any religion’. So whether or not the AIB obtained the certificate and license based on a wrong script may be a matter of investigation by Mumbai Police. Post the grant of license, it is prohibited under the Rules to perform ‘profanity or impropriety of language’ or ‘indecent gesture’ or hurt the religious feelings.

If AIB took the permission then what is the issue?

As per some reports, the MSPSB chairperson has alleged that AIB never received a suitability certificate for its script and hence the notice to National Sports Club of India which owns the premises where the show was hosted. However, as per some other reports, Mumbai Police has alleged that the organisers obtained the license based on a script which was different to the one which was performed on stage and hence the matter is under investigation.

If the license was valid, AIB doesn’t need to fear anything?

No. Legally even if the certificate and then the license were obtained, AIB was prohibited to perform what under the Rules can be termed as profanity or impropriety of language, indecent gesture or perform what may hurt the religious feelings, and this would lead to the cancellation of the license. Even otherwise the offences alleged to have been committed through the performance of AIB, can make one liable under the laws related to obscenity, indecent representation of women, blasphemy law etc under the Indian laws.

Rule 122. Acts prohibited by the holder of a Performance License:

No person holding a Performance License under these Rule shall, before, during or after any performance or during any interval in such performance, exhibition, production, display or staging, permit or himself commit on the stage or in any part of the auditorium or outside it:

(a) any profanity or impropriety of language ;
(b) any indecency of dress, dance movement or gesture ;
(k) any speech, ceremony or any other item not covered expressly by the terms of the Performance License and by the script of the performance for which the Performance License has been granted.