Defamation suit over Modi documentary: Delhi High Court issues notice to BBC | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Defamation suit over Modi documentary: Delhi High Court issues notice to BBC

May 22, 2023 02:21 PM IST

The government dismissed the documentary based on the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister as “propaganda”

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) in connection with a defamation suit a Gujarat-based non-governmental organisation (NGO) has filed against the United Kingdom (UK)’s national broadcaster over its documentary “India: The Modi Question”.

The government dismissed the documentary as “propaganda”. (AFP)
The government dismissed the documentary as “propaganda”. (AFP)

The government has dismissed the documentary based on the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the state’s chief minister as “propaganda” and a reflection of the “colonial mindset”. It issued directions in January to video-sharing service YouTube to take down copies of the film and to Twitter to remove posts related to it. The government said the documentary peddled a “discredited narrative” and highlighted the Supreme Court cleared Modi of any wrongdoings.

BBC maintained that the film “was rigorously researched according to highest editorial standards”.

In its plea, NGO Justice On Trial alleged the documentary defamed India’s people. It said the documentary makes defamatory imputation and casts a slur on the reputation of the country, judiciary and the Prime Minister

Senior advocate Harish Salve, who appeared for the NGO in the high court, said that the whole system, the Constitutional network, including India’s judicial system, has been defamed.

“Issue notice to the respondents through all permissible modes,” Justice Sachin Datta of the high court said orally. He said the matter would be heard next in September.

The Supreme Court in February dismissed as “completely misconceived” a public interest litigation (PIL) demanding a ban on BBC in India amid the controversy over the documentary. A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and MM Sundresh told the petitioner, Beerendra Kumar Singh of Hindu Sena, the PIL was absolutely meritless.

The income tax department also in February carried out what it described as a “survey” of the offices of BBC in Delhi and Mumbai and sparked a political row. Opposition parties criticised the action and linked it to BBC’s airing of a two-part documentary, which cited a previously unpublished report of the UK foreign ministry that questioned Modi’s actions during the riots.

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