The government on Friday armed itself with unprecedented censor tools to deal with what it may deem as objectionable coverage of country’s prisons or inmates.
First of all, according to fresh guidelines issued by the Union home ministry and shared with all states as prisons come under state administration, no private individual or press or NGO or company would ‘ordinarily’ be allowed entry into the prison for the purposes of doing research, making documentaries, writing articles or taking interviews. The guidelines will be applicable to both foreigners and Indian applicants.
Three exceptions would apply to it.
If the state government feels that the coverage will have positive social impact or the work is related to prison reforms or the government itself invites such press or filmmakers for such coverage. But no jail tours from now onwards.
“The jail superintendent, after having received the permission from the state government/union territories administration or the head of the department, as the case may be, may allow such visitor (s) to see the prisoner in the visitor area,” state the guidelines.
Besides, after shooting or recording the interview, the visitors will hand over all equipments like handycam, dictaphone, camera or tape recorder to the jail superintendent for three days. The jail superintendent will check the recordings and delete any portion which was found to be objectionable.
The guidelines also ask for an undertaking from the applicant to follow the prescribed rules and a security deposit of Rs 1 lakh.
In cases of applicants from abroad, state governments concerned have been advised to consult the local unit of the domestic spy agency the Intelligence Bureau and ministries of home and external affairs.
The applicants will have to submit the final version of their film or research paper to the jail authorities for final no objection certificate.
British filmaker Leslee Udwin made a documentary on the December 16 gangrape case which sparked a huge controversy as she interviewed the convicts in Delhi's Tihar jail.