Nepali Congress MP Gagan Thapa called it wrong to file a case against a comedy video. “Absurdist humour is taken as normal all over the world,” he tweeted. “It is unfortunate that Pranesh Gautam was charged with cyber crime for a satire video, and it is against freedom of speech. Criticism is the main pillar of democracy, let us protect it.”
Nepal’s Constitution guarantees freedom of expression as a fundamental right. Other laws address misuse of speech through slander and libel, so there should be no reason to resort to using the Electronic Transaction Act.
Gagging the press in installments, Sewa Bhattarai
Creeping control over the press in Nepal, Ajay Pradhan
Citizens are free to react to subjects of public interest and to comment on other people’s creative outputs. Being arrested on the basis of such comments is nothing more than a way for the police to intimidate critics. Advocate Aryal claims that since a movie is a ‘product,’ it is not considered slander to review it, since only negative comments made on a personal level can be libellous.
However, the Producers’ Association accuses Gautam of undermining the movie industry. A group of people from the industry, including producer Akash Adhikari, actor Bhuwan KC and media-person Naresh Bhattarai, visited the Metropolitan Crime Department in Teku to support Chams.
Suppressed, Om Astha Rai
Strongman rule, Om Astha Rai
Chams had promised to withdraw the case if Meme Nepal is shut down, but is now demanding Rs10 million to withdraw the case.
Bir Bikram 2 was released on 17 May, and Gautam reviewed the movie five days later. After complaints from the movie producers, Meme Nepal removed the video from YouTube.