Madurai bench of Madras HC bans TV telecast of prank shows

The pranks usually put the 'victims' in an embarassing situation.

The Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, on Wednesday (April 3), ordered a ban on ‘prank shows,’ aired on television channels. The bench, comprising justice Kirubakaran and justice SS Sundar, passed the order on a public interest litigation filed by lawyer Muthukumar. The bench also asked the Centre to consider banning ‘Tik Tok’ suo motu rather than waiting for an eventuality.

Muthukumar said in his petition that these ‘prank shows’ amounted to harassment of those on whom the actions of the pranksters played out. The victims were usually unsuspecting individuals going about their business as usual. The pranksters ensured that the victims were in an embarrassing situation. The petitioner also sought a ban on ‘Tik Tok’ stating that many youngsters used the app in a wrongful manner. He said the app and its use violated privacy. He said the app had been banned in countries like the US and Indonesia. Hearing the arguments, the judges asked why such a ban cannot be imposed in the country. The judges said the government should not ‘wait for another cyber crime to happen’ like it did with the ‘Blue Whale’ challenged. It also asked the Centre to explain its stance.

In February, Thameemun Ansari, MLA, requested the Tamil Nadu government to ban the ‘Tik Tok’ app. There were also unconfirmed reports that the state had recommended the Centre to ban the app. The case will be heard again on April 16.

The genre of televised pranks has its origin in the more sober stream of ‘practical jokes’ performed by a ‘practical joker.’ It differs from a verbal joke in the fact that it is performed and enacted to cause a humorous situation. In 1953, American humourist H Allen Smith wrote a 320-page book called The Compleat Practical Joke. The book was an instant hit in the US and in Japan. In Canada and the US engineering students play pranks to demonstrate their technical expertise. In one instance, the students of the University of British Columbia reportedly left a Volkswagen Beetle dangling down a bridge.