'India's Daughter' ban extended till 15 April, HC seeks MIB advisory

NEW DELHI: The ban on the telecast of the controversial BBC documentary India’s Daughter by Leslee Udwin about the 16 December, 2012 Nirbhaya gang rape will continue till 15 April, though the film continues to be available on the Internet.

The Delhi High Court today (18 March) asked the central government to place before the court the advisory issued by it on 3 March prohibiting exhibition of the documentary.

A division bench of Chief Justice G. Rohini and Justice R.S. Endlaw posted for 15 April the two public interest litigations (PILs) before it for revocation of the ban on the documentary’s telecast.

A different bench had yesterday declined to immediately revoke the ban on the telecast of the documentary. It said it has “no problem” about airing the documentary but the case (appeals of the convicts against death sentence) was pending before the Supreme Court. 

It also observed that media trials tend to influence judges by subconsciously creating pressure.

The documentary is about the gang rape of a 23-year-old trainee physiotherapist, who was brutally assaulted in a moving bus in Delhi. The film kicked up a storm after one of the convicts Mukesh Singh justified the action. 

The documentary also has comments from the convicts’ counsel A.P. Singh and M.L. Sharma, who allegedly made derogatory remarks against women and who have alreadybeen issued notices by the Bar Council of India.

The PILs said that the ban on the documentary was in clear violation of fundamental rights under Article 19 of the constitution.

They sought direction to declare as illegal the act of banning the documentary by the Home and Information and Broadcasting Ministries, and the Delhi Police commissioner.

The Centre on 3 March issued an advisory to ban the broadcast of the documentary and the trial court had banned it on 4 March until further orders.

The pleas also sought direction for the Supreme Court registry to constitute a three-judge special bench to hear the appeals of the four death row convicts, pending since 25 August, 2014.

The Supreme Court, in July, put on hold the execution of the four convicts in the case. Going by the chatter on social media, the public at large wanted to see the documentary, as within a day of it being put up on YouTube, it was viewed by more 2.86 lakh people, the pleas said.

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