A public interest litigation has been filed in the Supreme Court against the Centre’s decision to block a two-part BBC documentary about the alleged role of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2002 Gujarat riots, reported PTI.

Advocate ML Sharma, in his petition, has alleged that the Centre’s decision was “malafide, arbitrary and unconstitutional” and has sought quashing the government’s order.

On January 20, the government had used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to issue directions to YouTube and Twitter to block clips of the documentary titled India: The Modi Question from being shared. The foreign ministry had described the documentary as “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”.

The first episode of the documentary, released on January 17, alleges that a team sent by the British government had found that Modi, who was the chief minister of Gujarat when the riots took place, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the violence against Muslims.

The second part was released on Tuesday.

In his petition, Sharma asked whether the Central government can curtail freedom of press – a fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

“Whether without having an emergency declared under Article 352 of the Constitution of India by the president, emergency provisions can be invoked by the central government?” the plea asked.

It also said the BBC documentary has recorded facts that are evidence and can be used to further the cause of justice for the victims of the riots.

While the documentary has not been made available in India, pirated links of the film have been shared widely on online platforms.

Screenings of the documentary have run into controversies at the Delhi University, the city’s Jawaharlal Nehru University, Ambedkar University and Jamia Millia Islamia University, the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and the Presidency University in Kolkata.