The Delhi High Court on Monday summoned the British Broadcasting Company in a defamation suit alleging that its two-part documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots cast a slur on the reputation of India, its judiciary as well as Prime Minister Narendra Modi, reported Live Law.

The case was filed by a Gujarat-based non governmental organisation called Justice on Trial. Justice Sachin Datta has listed it for hearing in September.

The British broadcaster had released the first part of the documentary, India: The Modi Question, on January 17. It alleged that Modi, who was then the chief minister of Gujarat, was “directly responsible for a climate of impunity” that led to the 2002 riots and that he had ordered senior police officers not to intervene.

More than 1,000 people, most of them Muslims, were killed in the riots.

The documentary, which was not officially made available in India but was uploaded on several social media platforms, also revealed for the first time that a report commissioned by the United Kingdom government had stated that the riots had “all the hallmarks of an ethnic cleansing”.

The documentary drew an immediate backlash from the Modi government, which used emergency powers available under the Information Technology Rules, 2021, to issue directions to block clips of it from being shared.

Earlier on May 3, a Delhi court had issued summons to the BBC, non-profit body Wikimedia and digital library Internet Archive on a defamation complaint filed by Bharatiya Janata Party member Binay Kumar Singh

In his plea, Singh alleged that the documentary contains defamatory and baseless allegations against the Vishwa Hindu Parishad and Modi. He sought directions from the court to restrain the BBC, Wikipedia and Internet Archive from publishing the documentary.

The BBC has been facing flak since it released the documentary. Just a month after the release, the Income Tax department had surveyed the British broadcaster’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai. The tax department claimed that BBC’s income in India was not commensurate with the scale of operations in the country.

Last month, the Enforcement Directorate registered a case of violation of foreign exchange rules against BBC India. The central agency has booked the media company under Foreign Exchange Management Act after it scrutinised foreign remittances of the British broadcaster’s India unit.