New Delhi/London: The home ministry has asked the BBC, the information and broadcasting, foreign and information technology ministries on Wednesday to stop the telecast of a controversial documentary featuring an accused in the December 16 gangrape case, saying it was planning legal action against the filmmaker.
Home minister Rajnath Singh told Parliament he was “stunned” how permission was granted for convict Mukesh Singh’s interview inside Delhi’s Tihar Jail, as woman MPs from opposition parties stormed into the well of the Rajya Sabha in protest. The director general of Tihar Jail Alok Kumar Verma was also summoned by Singh over the permissions granted for the interview.
“I was stunned and deeply hurt by this when I came to know about it yesterday. I spoke to the authorities and made sure that all steps are taken to stop the broadcast,” Singh said, adding the Centre wouldn’t allow the commercial use of such incidents.
The home minister’s comments came a day after Delhi Police registered an FIR against British filmmaker Leslee Udwin’s documentary India’s Daughter and obtained a restraining order from a local court, hours after portions of the interview appeared in the media and on YouTube. In them, the death row inmate, who was driving the bus when the crime took place, blames the 23-year-old victim for the brutal assault that ultimately killed her, triggering nationwide outrage.
NDTV was due to have shown the documentary to mark International Women’s Day on Sunday (March 8), when it would also have been broadcast in six other countries including Britain.
BBC, however, has advanced the telecast of the documentary from March 8. The film will be telecast Wednesday night at 10pm GMT in UK (Thursday 3:30am IST). An eight-minute edited version of the film was already broadcast BBC’s Newsnight programme on Tuesday night.
Four men, including Singh, were sentenced to death in the case, but their execution was later stayed by the Supreme Court. One of the defendants hanged himself in prison, while another who was under 18 years of age at the time of the incident, was sentenced to 3 years in juvenile detention.
Udwin said she was heart-broken by the ban on the documentary but told HT she had all permissions from Tihar and the home ministry, along with a signed consent form from convicts interviewed for the documentary.
Tihar jail administration claimed Udwin did not comply with the conditions of the consent forms but the British filmmaker said she showed authorities the unedited footage as required. “They constituted a three-man committee, watched for three hours, and then said, it’s too long,” she told HT.
Earlier in the day, Singh told both Houses it would act promptly against officials responsible for giving permission to Udwin and that he would review existing provisions for allowing shoots inside prisons to ensure such incidents are not repeated.
But woman opposition members were not satisfied, and led by the Samajwadi Party’s Jaya Bachchan, all benches present in the House trooped into the Well. Soon, their male colleagues also joined, forcing deputy chairman PJ Kurien to adjourn the House for 15 minutes. Bachchan said women do not want “crocodile tears” but wanted the government to take action immediately.
“The reality is that what that man (convict) spoke reflects the view of many men in India. Why are we shying away from reality? We should confront the issue. Let us not pretend that all is well,” said Rajya Sabha MP Anu Aga, disapproving of the ban.
The No Objection Certificate issued to Udwin remained at the centre of the controversy with Singh saying the permission was issued by the home ministry in July 2013.
Singh’s predecessor and Congress leader Sushilkumar Shinde, however, said he did not give any permission for shooting the documentary and that no papers had come to him in this regard.