The Punjab and Haryana High Court directed the State of Punjab not to take “coercive steps” against Bollywood actress Raveena Tandon, filmmaker Farah Khan and comedian Bharti Singh on their plea, seeking quashing of two separate FIRs registered against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a web show titled as ‘Backbenchers’ released by Flipkart.
The show Backbenchers, which was launched on October 19, 2019, is a one-of-its-kind non-scripted comedy-based web quiz show hosted by Bollywood director Farah Khan. The show invites some of the Bollywood and Sports’ finest and tests their general knowledge through several rounds of written and oral tests.
The alleged incident arose from an unintentional conversation during the quizzing of the two participants, Raveena Tandon and Bharti Singh by the host Farah Khan at Mumbai on 30th November 2019 in 14th episode of Back Benchers. In the show Raveena Tandon and Bharti Singh were asked by Farah Khan to spell the word “Hallelujah” and also to disclose its meaning by narrating the same. While Raveena Tandon spelled it correctly but did not explain its meaning or narrate anything as regards to the word, Bharti Singh not knowing the origin and context of the word, mis-spelled it and referred it to an identical word in Hindi, of which only the pronunciation resembled.
A total of 13 FIRS have been registered in Punjab and Maharasthra wherein allegations were raised that the said show has made a joke of the word “Hallelujah” and played with the religious sentiments.
Quashing petitions were filed before the Punjab & Haryana High Courts at Chandigarh under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, praying for quashing of the FIRs registered at Police Station City Rupnagar, District Rupnagar and at Police Station Cantt. Ferozepur, District Ferozepur where Raveena Tandon , Farah Khan & Bharti Singh have been arrayed as accused. The Punjab and Haryana High Court while issuing notice has directed that no coercive steps shall be taken by the State of Punjab against the petitioners in both the Ferozpur and Rupnagar FIR’s. The matter is adjourned for 25th March 2020 for further proceedings.