On BBC Series On PM, Supreme Court To Hear Case Challenging Ban Next Week
The use of emergency powers to stop the contentious BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and claims connected to the 2002 Gujarat riots will be challenged in court proceedings heard by the Supreme Court on Monday.
A bench made up of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud, justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala, and senior attorney CU Singh took note of their requests for an urgent listing of their respective Public Interest Litigations on the matter. Along with Mr. Sharma, veteran journalist N Ram, activist-attorney Prashant Bhushan, and Trinamool Congress MP Mahua Moitra have also filed a petition.
According to Attorney CU Singh, the Center has used its emergency IT rules powers to take down links to the documentary from social media. He further noted that tweets by N Ram and Attorney Prashant Bhushan were also removed, though the Center has not yet formally announced the blocking order. He stated that Ajmer college students were expelled for showing the documentary.
The Center’s decision to prohibit the two-part documentary is described as “malafide, capricious, and unconstitutional” in ML Sharma’s plea.
The PIL further challenged the top court to review portions I and II of the BBC programme and called for punishment of those who were accountable for and participating in the Gujarat riots of 2002.
On January 21, the Centre gave instructions for censoring many YouTube videos and Twitter posts giving links to the divisive BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” under the emergency provisions of the Information Technology Rules, 2021.
The top court must determine whether individuals have the right under Article 19 (1) (2) to view news, facts, and reports on the 2002 Gujarat riots, according to Mr. Sharma, who claimed that he had raised a constitutional issue in his PIL.
A day after British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak distanced himself from the documentary series, stating that he “doesn’t agree with the characterisation” of his Indian counterpart in the UK’s parliament by Pakistan-origin MP Imran Hussain, the Information and Broadcasting (I&B) Ministry instructed Twitter and YouTube to block the first episode of the BBC documentary.
According to insiders, the ministry ordered Twitter to delete more than 50 tweets on the documentary by Britain’s national broadcaster.
India has referred to the film as “propaganda,” saying it lacks objectivity and exhibits a colonial mentality.No proof of misconduct by PM Modi, who was the Chief Minister of Gujarat when the riots started in February 2002, was discovered by an investigation ordered by the Supreme Court.
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