Documentary row: Fresh Delhi HC notice to BBC on NGO’s defamation plea 

The documentary is related to the 2002 Godhra riots and critical to PM Narendra Modi who was then Gujarat Chief Minister. 
Delhi High Court (File Photo | PTI)
Delhi High Court (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Monday issued fresh notice to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on a defamation suit filed by a Gujarat-based NGO seeking to sue the global media giant over its documentary titled ‘India: The Modi Question’ for allegedly casting a slur on the reputation of India, its judiciary and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The documentary is related to the 2002 Godhra riots and critical to PM Narendra Modi who was then Gujarat Chief Minister. Issuing notice to the respondents ‘through all permissible modes’ including--BBC (UK), and BBC (India), a single-bench Judge Justice Sachin Datta posted the matter for hearing on December 15.

Advocate Siddharth Sharma, on behalf of petitioner NGO Justice on Trial submitted before the court that notices were issued to the same respondents earlier but they could not be served. He also sought more time to serve the notices to them.

The petitioner NGO had submitted that the BBC (India) is the local operation office and BBC (UK) has released the documentary -- “India: The Modi Question” -- which has two episodes. Through the plea, the NGO sought damages of Rs 10,000 crore in its favour against the defendants on account of the “loss of reputation and goodwill caused to the Prime Minister of India, the Government of India, the Government of the State of Gujarat as it was during the period of the Gujarat Riots, and also the people of India.’

It was urged by the petitioner that an order of damages, the relief is provisionally valued for the purposes of court fees at Rs 10,000 crore and the plaintiff has filed an application under Order 33 Rules 1 and 2 of the Code of Civil Procedure (CPC) seeking permission to sue as an indigent person, since it does not have sufficient means to pay the court the fee prescribed by law.

On May 3, a Delhi court had issued summons to the BBC, Wikimedia Foundation and US-based Internet Archive on a defamation suit moved by BJP leader Binay Kumar Singh over the contentious BBC 
documentary which is now banned in India. 

The Centre had earlier issued directions for blocking multiple YouTube videos and Twitter posts sharing links to the BBC documentary, which was described by the Ministry of External Affairs as a 
“propaganda piece” that lacks objectivity and reflects a colonial mindset.

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