An upset government on Thursday served a legal notice to BBC after the channel ignored its advice and broadcast the controversial interview of Delhi gang-rape convict even as it asked video sharing website YouTube to remove the documentary as it is “very sensitive”.
“Yes we had informed all channels that the documentary must not be released. But BBC has broadcast it in London. (Now) whatever action we have to take, the home ministry will go ahead and do that,” home minister Rajnath Singh told reporters here earlier when asked about the airing of the programme on Wednesday night.
“..We had requested BBC not to telecast the documentary but BBC said that it’s an independent organization and will go ahead with the telecast,” he added,
Asked what the government could do, Singh said, “I would not like to make any comment at this moment. All I can say is that whatever is required, will be done. If conditions have been violated, if they have been violated, there will be appropriate action,” PTI reported.
To another query, the minister said, “You keep watching, I have talked to the I&B ministry and have also written to the external affairs ministry. Proceedings are taking place.”
Meanwhile, communications and IT ministry told Youtube that the issue is “very sensitive” and it should review its position on the matter, and remove it from the website.
When contacted, a YouTube spokesperson said: “While we believe that access to information is the foundation of a free society and that services like YouTube help people express themselves and share different points of view, we continue to remove content that is illegal or violates our community guidelines, once notified.”
BBC aired the documentary, containing the controversial interview of a convict in the December 16,2012 gang rape despite a Delhi court prohibiting it.
BBC on Thursday conveyed to the government that it has no plans to telecast the film in India in compliance with the directive.
Asked as to who was to blame for allowing shooting of the documentary, the home minister said, “there has been no failure on the part of the government.”
He maintained that the permission “was not given in our tenure.”
Singh, who gave a detailed statement on the issue on Wednesday, said, “I have said this in the Parliament also that we’ll be removing all the provisions under which this permission has been given, so that a mistake like this doesn’t happen in the future.”
He said, “If violation has been done, then the responsibility can surely be fixed to someone and if the responsibility is fixed the action will also happen.”
The home minister’s statement came when asked whether the government was contemplating legal action against the British media giant for defying the ban.
Officials had said that home ministry is also planning legal action against British filmmaker Leslee Udwin for allegedly violating stipulated permission conditions.
Mixed reactions to BBC move to air gang-rape convict interview
The decision by BBC to broadcast the controversial interview of one of the December 16, 2012, gang-rape convicts despite the restraining order against its screening has evoked mixed reactions among political parties.
While BJP has been critical of the UK national broadcaster’s decision to go ahead with the telecast of the interview shot inside Tihar jail here, Congress said it supported BBC’s move and was shocked by the ban imposed on it by the government in the country.
“I think BBC, by choosing to advance telecast this film, has lost its moral (standing) and credibility in the country. The government has already decided to initiate legal action against people who have violated the rules and norms.
“Appropriate legal action will follow. The government will take all necessary measures to ensure that this film doesn’t get telecast further,” said BJP spokesperson GVL Narasimha Rao.
Further, criticising the broadcast of the banned interview, which was shot by filmmaker Leslee Udwin and BBC, BJP MP Meenakshi Lekhi said, “Somewhere this is an attempt to dent the image of India.”
However, senior Congress leader Priya Dutt supported the broadcast of the interview, saying the documentary did not defend, but exposed the mindset of the rapist.
“I am very shocked at the decision to ban the video. Rapes happen every single day and this has to be exposed. The documentary didn’t defend the rape, it in fact showed the mindset of the rapist. The rapist has not been given a platform.
“I feel terrible for the parents (of the gang-rape victim) who are going through trial once again. Justice delayed is justice denied. This is the story which needs to be told,” Dutt said.
The documentary includes an interview conducted by Udwin and BBC of Singh, the driver of the bus in which the 23-year- old paramedical student was brutally gang raped by six men on December 16, 2012. Mukesh has made derogatory statements against women in the documentary.