SC agrees to hear plea to ban BBC documentary

The Supreme Court agreed on Monday to list a public interest litigation against the Center’s decision to ban a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots in the country on February 6. A bench headed by Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud said it would list the matter for hearing on Monday. Advocate ML Sharma, who has filed the PIL, mentioned the matter for an early hearing. , The PIL sought quashing of the January 21 order of the Center, terming it “illegal, legal, mala fide, arbitrary, and unconstitutional.” , , Meanwhile, senior advocate C.U. Singh testified before the bench about how senior journalists N Ram and Prashant Bhushan’s tweets containing links to the BBC documentary were deleted using “emergency powers,” and how Ajmer students were suspended for watching the documentary. , , The PIL filed by advocate Sharma also urged the apex court to call and examine the BBC documentary—both parts I and II—and sought action against persons who were responsible and were involved directly and indirectly with the 2002 Gujarat riots. A PIL has raised a constitutional question, and the apex court has to decide whether citizens have the right under Article 19(1) and (2) to see news, facts, and reports on the 2002 Gujrat riots. “Issue a writ of mandamus to the respondent for the quashing of the impugned order dated January 21, 2023, issued under Rule 16 of IT Rule 2021 as being ille-, gal, malafide, and arbitrary, unconstitutional and void, ab initio, and ultra vires the Constitution of India to provide complete justice,” Sharma said in his PIL. , As per the sources, on January 21, the Center issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts and sharing links to the controversial BBC documentary. , , The PIL asked whether the central government can restrict press freedom, which is a fundamental right guaranteed by Articles 19 (1) and (2) of the Constitution. It went on to ask, “Can the central government issue emergency proclamations without the president declaring an emergency under Article 352 of the Indian Constitution?” 

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