In another significant development in the matter involving the Government’s ban on India’s Daughter, the documentary on the December 16 gang rape case, a public interest litigation petition has been lodged in the Delhi High Court. The public interest litigation petition will plead against the government’s ban on the controversial documentary and will consequently, pray for the ban to be annulled and the documentary to be allowed to be telecast.
The documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ features an interview given by Mukesh Singh, one of the four convicts in the Nirbhaya gang rape case. Mukesh, currently on death row (Supreme Court is currently hearing the appeal), had made some very controversial comments during his interview with respect to women and their status in the Indian society. His statements were also seen as disparaging to the victim and her relatives.
Even though Mukesh’s statements have created a furore in domestic and international media, the government’s response in the matter has been rather gauche. The Ministry of Home Affairs, had issued a restraining order against the British Broadcasting Corporation (the telecasting agency) to prevent it from broadcasting the documentary on television. The said restraining order was affirmed and extended by a lower Court in Delhi.
Even as the BBC defied the government’s ban by telecasting the documentary in London, the government had also successfully banned the documentary from being uploaded and shared on the online video sharing portal YouTube. Among the reasons cited by the Government for the controversial ban, the government has claimed that the documentary is ‘denting India’s image’ globally. In further action, the Government is also contemplating filing an FIR against the LesleeUdwin, the director of the impugned documentary.
The PIL has been filed by a law student, who has prayed for the lifting of the ban arguing that documentary aims to expose and analyse the mentality of a convicted rapists. Moreover, according to the petitioner’s claims, even the parents of the victim have granted their consent to the shooting and broadcasting of the documentary.
VibhorAnand, the petitioner is of the view that government cannot ban the film after granting all the required approvals to the shooting and screening of the documentary. According to the petitioners, the documentary makers went through the motions, and secured all the necessary permits and are, now, being denied the right to broadcast their work. Further, he has argued that citing ‘public interest’ as a reason for banning the documentary seems superfluous as the public at large has wanted to view the documentary (courtesy- YouTube viewership).
by Siddhartha Singh.