New Delhi: Acting on a plea by a Gujarat-based NGO, the Delhi high court on Monday (September 25) issued fresh notices to BBC (UK) and BBC (India). The NGO, Justice on Trial, claimed that the BBC’s documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India: The Modi Question, has damaged the country’s reputation and made “false and defamatory imputations” against him as well as the judiciary.
The bench, comprising Justice Sachin Datta, has listed the matter for December 15.
The counsel for the petitioner NGO informed the single-judge bench that notices had been issued to BBC (UK) and BBC (India) earlier but could not be served and sought more time to serve these, the Times of India (TOI) reported.
Earlier this year, the British broadcaster had released a two-part documentary series on the Gujarat riots that happened when Modi was chief minister of the state. The government had asked platforms to remove links to the documentary soon after its release.
The petitioner has sought damages of Rs 10,000 crore in favour of the NGO on account of the “loss of reputation and goodwill caused to the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India, the government of India and the government of the state of Gujarat as it (the documentary) was during the period of the Gujarat riots, and also (about) the people of India.”
The NGO has also filed an indigent person application arguing that it doesn’t afford the court fee, TOI reported.
The NGO claimed the “disparaging and defamatory” statements of the defendant had caused grave and irreparable injury to the reputation of the prime minister and denuded the goodwill that has been built by the him, the government of India, the government of Gujarat and also the people of India. It said the conduct of the broadcaster is actionable and makes them liable to damages, the TOI report said.
The documentary is centred around the British High Commission’s investigation of the Gujarat riots ordered by then foreign affairs minister of the UK, Jack Straw. In an interview with The Wire, Straw repeated the main findings of the report which held Modi directly responsible for the riots.