NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on January 30 agreed to hear petitions challenging the blocking of the BBC documentary India: The Modi Question on February 6.
A bench comprising Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and justices PS Narasimha and JB Pardiwala took note of the submissions of serial litigant Advocate ML Sharma and senior advocate CU Singh seeking urgent listing of their separate Public Interest Litigations on the issue.
“Whether without having an Emergency declared under Article 352 of the Constitution of India by the President, Emergency provisions can be invoked by the Central Government?” the PIL said. It claimed the BBC documentary has “recorded facts” which are also “evidence” and can be used to further the cause of justice for the victims.
A petition has been filed by senior journalist N. Ram, advocate Prashant Bhushan. A separate petition has also been filed by advocate M.L. Sharma. Senior advocate C.U. Singh, for Mr. Ram and Mr. Bhushan, orally submitted that their tweets were taken down after invoking emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules. However, the formal blocking order is not in the public domain.
The Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had issued orders to block multiple YouTube videos of the first episode of the BBC documentary as well as more than 50 tweets linking to the videos. Opposition leaders have accused the government of imposing censorship through its orders. The directions were reportedly issued by I&B Secretary Apurva Chandra on January 20, using emergency powers under the Information Technology Rules, 2021.