New Delhi, January 30
The Supreme Court on Monday agreed to take up next week petitions challenging the Centre’s decision to block a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots. “It will be listed on Monday (February 6),” a Bench led by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud said after advocate ML Sharma and senior advocate CU Singh sought urgent listing of their PILs on the issue.
Sharma mentioned the plea for urgent listing, saying some people had been arrested.
Singh mentioned a petition filed by noted journalist N Ram and lawyer-activist Prashant Bhushan and pointed out that tweets by Ram and Bhushan were allegedly deleted by using emergency powers. He said students in Ajmer were rusticated for streaming the documentary.
Law Minister Kiren Rijiju hit out at those approaching the Supreme Court against the “ban” on the BBC documentary. “This is how they waste the precious time of Hon’ble Supreme Court where thousands of common citizens are waiting and seeking dates for justice,” Rijiju tweeted. Terming the Centre’s decision to “ban” a BBC documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots as “mala fide, arbitrary and unconstitutional”, Sharma has moved the Supreme Court on the ground that it violated the right to free speech.
Sharma requested the top court to examine the BBC documentary Part I and Part II, and demanded action against those directly and indirectly involved in the 2002 Gujarat riots.
He submitted that the BBC documentary had “recorded facts” which were also “evidence” and could be used to further the cause of justice for the victims.
Contending that the issue raised a constitutional question, the PIL urged the court to decide if citizens had the right under Article 19 (1) (2) to watch news, facts and reports on the 2002 Gujarat riots.
The petitioner sought quashing of the January 21, 2023, order of the Ministry of the Information and Broadcasting, terming it as illegal, mala fide, arbitrary and unconstitutional.
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