In a defamation case concerning a documentary that questioned Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership during the 2002 Gujarat riots, the Delhi High Court severed a notice on the British broadcaster BBC asking for a response.
The program in question was about Modi. The documentary “India: the Modi Question” centered on Modi’s management of the riots that occurred in the western state in 2002, which resulted in at least 1,000 deaths, the majority of them Muslims. Over twice that many, according to activists. A Supreme Court-ordered probe found no evidence to indict Modi, despite his denials of claims that he did not do enough to put an end to the riots.
The court found that the documentary “casts a slur on the reputation of the country” and “makes false and defamatory imputations and insinuations” against its prime minister, judiciary, and criminal justice system,” which led to the filing of the complaint. The broadcaster had until September 25 to answer to the court. We are aware of the legal proceedings, a BBC representative stated.
To make any additional comments at this time would be inappropriate. After the documentary and a “breach of security” incident at the Indian High Commission in March, relations between India and Britain have deteriorated at a time when they are unable to advance in free trade negotiations.
India responded fiercely to the documentary after it aired in January, labeling it a biased “propaganda piece” and prohibiting the posting of any excerpts on social media. The BBC’s offices in Delhi and Mumbai were scrutinized by tax authorities in February, and the financial crime bureau launched an inquiry into the broadcaster in April for alleged violations of foreign currency regulations.
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The tax authority had claimed that it had discovered evidence of unreported income in the records of an “international media company,” but had omitted to mention the BBC. According to a government advisor, the inspection was not “vengeful.” The BBC previously asserted that it “does not have an agenda” and that it stood by its reporting for the documentary, which was not broadcast in India.