Delhi High Court issues summons to BBC on defamation case

The Delhi High Court today issued summons to the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) on a defamation case filed by a Gujarat-based NGO named ‘Justice on Trial’ which claims that its controversial documentary on the 2002 Gujarat riots is against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and ‘cast a slur’ on the reputation of India, and that of the judiciary.

“It is contended that the documentary makes defamatory imputation and castes slur on reputation of the country and the judiciary and against the Prime Minister. Issue notice to the respondents…,” the court said.

Senior Advocate Harish Salve, appearing for the NGO, contended that the two part documentary has defamed the country, including its judiciary.

Earlier, on May 3, a trial court in Delhi had issued summonses to the BBC, Wikimedia, and Internet Archive on a criminal complaint filed by a BJP leader seeking to restrain them from publishing the documentary, or any other material defamatory to the BJP’s ideological mentor RSS and the Vishva Hindu Parishad (VHP). Wikimedia Foundation funds Wikipedia while Internet Archive is a US-based digital library.

The BJP leader’s complainant had said the BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question” has defamed organisations like the BJP, RSS, and VHP. The court was told that though the documentary has been banned by the government, a Wikipedia page dedicated to the series provides links to watch it and that the content is still available on Internet Archive.