BBC documentary: Supreme Court to hear pleas against blocking order on February 6
On January 20, the Centre had used emergency powers to block the documentary, which looks into Narendra Modi’s alleged role in 2002 Gujarat riots.
The Supreme Court will on February 6 hear two petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to block a BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s alleged role in 2002 Gujarat riots, PTI reported.
One of the petitions has been filed by Advocate ML Sharma, while the other one has been filed by journalist N Ram, lawyer Prashant Bhushan and others, according to Live Law.
The first episode of the BBC’s two-part documentary titled, India: The Modi Question, was released on January 17. It 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 documentary also reveals a United Kingdom government report on the violence for the first time, stating that the riots had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing”. The second part was released on January 24.
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 from being shared. The foreign ministry had described the documentary as “a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative”.
Also read: What emergency powers has India used to block links of BBC’s Gujarat riots documentary?
On Monday, Advocate ML Sharma mentioned his plea before a bench headed by Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and sought an urgent hearing. The plea argued that the Centre’s blocking order is “malafide, arbitrary and unconstitutional”, Live Law reported.
Advocate CU Singh mentioned the second plea and told the court that tweets about the documentary, posted by his clients Ram and Bhushan, had been taken down. The lawyer also contended that the Centre has not put the blocking order on public domain.
The chief justice agreed to list the petitions for hearing on next Monday.
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 as well as the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in Mumbai and the Presidency University in Kolkata. The Central University of Rajasthan in Ajmer has also suspended 10 students for watching the documentary.
Meanwhile, Union Law Minister Kiren Rijiju on Monday said that the petitioners were wasting the “precious time” of the Supreme Court where thousands are waiting and seeking dates for justice.