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BBC's Modi Documentary banned under 'Emergency' rules of IT Act: RTI Reply

BBCs Modi Documentary banned under Emergency rules of IT Act: RTI Reply

New Delhi: Saket Gokhale of the All India Trinamool Congress, who filed a Right to Information (RTI) request to find the reasons behind the ban on the BBC documentary titled 'India: The Modi Question,' said he received a bizarre response from the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B).

The banning of the BBC documentary critical of Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the country drew widespread condemnation across the political realm, calling the decision an attempt to subjugate free speech.

On the basis of the reply, which states that the ban was following the recommendations of the Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) under Rule 16 of the IT Rules 2021, Gokhale said that he would file an appeal demanding transparency. He said the ban could not be justified if it had been done invoking Rule 16 of the IT Rules, which could only be used 'in cases of emergency', about which nothing is found in the reply.

Further, the reply stated that the documentary affects the sovereignty, integrity, and national security of India, thus under section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act, 2005, the IDC proceedings could not be disclosed. Gokhale questioned how a documentary criticizing Prime Minister Modi could possibly affect India's sovereignty, integrity, and national security, as stated in the Ministry's response.

Gokhale stated that after the initial ban, the Ministry is required to constitute an Inter-Departmental Committee (IDC) to review the ban, as stated in Rule 17 of the IT Rules.

Quoting Rule 17, Gokhale pointed out that the Ministry is obligated to maintain complete records of the IDC's proceedings, including complaints referred to and recommendations made. He argued that these proceedings should be considered public records under the RTI Act.

In light of the Ministry's response, citing "affect sovereignty and integrity of India," Gokhale announced that an appeal would be filed demanding the immediate release of the IDC's deliberations and clarification on why the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Modi was banned on the grounds of "sovereignty and integrity of India."

The ban on the BBC documentary and the subsequent refusal by the Ministry to disclose the reasoning behind it has raised concerns about freedom of expression and transparency in India. The move has drawn criticism from various political parties, emphasizing the need for a thorough investigation into the decision-making process and ensuring that citizens have access to vital information.

As the appeal is filed, the spotlight is on the Indian government to address the concerns raised by Saket Gokhale and to uphold the principles of transparency and accountability in governance.

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TAGS:Saket GokhaleRTIRight to InformationBBC Modi DocumentaryAll India Trinamool Congress
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