India’s Supreme Court on Friday (February 3) issued a notice to the central government on pleas challenging its decision to block the BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots- “India: The Modi Question”. A bench of justices Sanjiv Khanna and MM Sundresh issued notices to the government and others on the pleas filed by veteran journalist N Ram, Trinamool Congress (TMC) MP Mahua Moitra and activist lawyer Prashant Bhushan. The government has been asked to file its response within three weeks, and the matter has been posted for hearing in April.
“We are issuing notices. Counter affidavit be filed within three weeks. Rejoinder within two weeks after that,” the bench said on Friday, news agency PTI reported. The bench also directed the central government to produce original records relating to the takedown order.
Senior advocate CU Singh appearing for TMC leader Mahua Moitra, veteran journalist N Ram and advocate Prashant Bhushan told the Supreme Court Bench that IT rules mandated the publication of emergency blocking orders within 48 hours. Singh added the government, based on the secret order, blocked the BBC documentary on the
Gujarat riots and based on this order, universities were taking action against students for screening the documentary.
Justice Sanjiv Khanna, meanwhile, said, that it was a fact that people had been accessing those videos (of the documentary), news agency ANI reported.
On Friday, the Supreme Court also issued a notice to the central government on a plea filed by advocate ML Sharma. The plea filed by advocate Sharma urged the court to call and examine both parts of the documentary- and sought action against those who were responsible and were directly and indirectly involved with the riots in Gujarat.
The pleas filed by journalist N Ram and others sought direction to quash all orders which directly and indirectly block online access to the documentary. The pleas termed the government’s decision (to block the documentary) as “manifestly arbitrary” and “unconstitutional”. The petitioners also sought restoration of their tweets which shared the links to the documentary.
(With inputs from agencies)
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