Supreme Court issues notice to Centre over blocking of BBC documentary on PM Modi [3.2.2023]

Supreme Court on Friday issued notice to the Centre on petitions challenging the government's decision to block the public access to BBC's documentary, "India: The Modi Question".

According to a report by LiveLaw, the plea was heard earlier today by a bench comprising Justices Sanjiv Khanna and MM Sundresh, who directed that the Centre produce original records relating to the order on the next date of hearing, which will be in April 2023.

The bench was considering a petition jointly filed by journalist N Ram, advocate Prashant Bhushan and TMC MP Mahua Moitra and another petition filed by advocate ML Sharma.

The report stated that as soon as the matter was taken up by the apex court, Senior Advocate Chander Uday Singh, who represented N Ram and others, submitted that it was a case where the Centre invoked the emergency powers under the IT Rules to block the two-part documentary, which was released on January 17, 2023.

Last week, Advocate ML Sharma mentioned the matter before Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud for urgent listing. Sharma's petition terms the Centre's ban on on the two-part documentary as “malafide, arbitrary and unconstitutional”. The petition argues that the citizens have the right to see news, facts and reports on the 2002 Gujarat riots and the Centre's decision has infringed citizens' right to information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution.

The other petition, which was filed by N. Ram, Prashant Bhushan, and TMC MP Mahua Moitra argued that the Central government has violated citizens' Right To Know by blocking the documentary. The petition also sought to restrain the central government from censoring the BBC documentary and to quash all orders which directly and indirectly block the online access to it, says report.

On January 21, 2023, just days after the BBC documentary was released, the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting reportedly invoked its emergency powers under the IT Rules 2021 to direct the removal of the links from YouTube and Twitter, when the first part of the documentary, which deals with the Gujarat riots of 2002 which happened when Narendra Modi was the Chief Minister of the State.


03 Feb 2023