US journalist was deported as his documentary portrays negative view of India, Centre tells Delhi HC
Angad Singh, a documentary producer with ‘Vice News’, was put on a flight back to New York hours after he landed in India in August on a personal visit.
US-based journalist Angad Singh, who works for American website Vice News, was deported from India as he has been blacklisted because his documentary titled India Burning presented a “very negative view of India’s secular credentials”, the Centre has told Delhi High Court, Bar and Bench reported on Friday.
In August, Singh’s mother had said in a Facebook post that the journalist was deported to New York after he landed in Delhi airport for a personal visit. Another family member had expressed apprehensions that the government was upset about a documentary Singh had made on the Shaheen Bagh protests.
The Shaheen Bagh locality in Delhi was one of the popular sites of protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act held between December 2019 and January 2020. In July, Vice News’ coverage of the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India had been nominated for the Emmy Awards. Singh was part of the project.
On Friday, Justice Prathiba M Singh was hearing the journalist’s plea challenging the central government’s refusal to allow him entry in India, Live Law reported. The petition contended that the government’s decision violated Articles 14 (Right to Equality), 21 (Right to Life and Liberty) and 25 (freedom to practice religion) of the Constitution.
Singh is a US citizen and carries an Overseas Citizen of India card.
Advocate Anurag Ahluwalia, appearing for the Union home ministry, told the court that Singh has been blacklisted as he violated Section 11A of the Foreigners’ Order, 1948, which prohibits any foreign citizen from producing any film without written permission from the central government, Live Law reported.
In an affidavit, the Foreign Regional Registration Office said that Singh was blacklisted on instructions from the Consulate General of India in New York.
“He misrepresented facts in his visa application filed for obtaining journalist visa in the year 2020 and has indulged in blatant anti national propaganda to defame the country,” the affidavit stated, according to Bar and Bench.
Meanwhile Singh’s counsel Advocate Swathi Sukumar argued that under the Citizenship Act, OCI card holders enjoy all the rights recognised by the Constitution, except for certain rights under Section 7B(2).
The counsel also contended that despite being blacklisted, Singh’s OCI card is still valid as it has not been cancelled.
Government’s lawyer Ahluwalia sought time to file response on whether any proceedings have been initiated to cancel Singh’s OCI card. The court agreed to grant time and listed the matter for next hearing on February 28.