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Ban on BBC documentary “India : The Modi Question”

Ban on BBC documentary “India : The Modi Question”

The news of the ban on the BBC documentary “The Modi Question” has sparked outrage around the world. The 2 episode series was banned in India. As many have pointed out, this censorship is highly unusual in a country that values free speech, and it raises serious questions about India’s commitment to open discourse and transparency.

What is the BBC documentary about?

The BBC documentary “Modi Question” was banned by the Indian government for its content. The documentary was about the 2002 Gujarat riots and Narendra Modi’s possible involvement in them. The documentary raised questions about whether or not Modi did everything he could to stop the riots. It also accused him of not doing enough to bring the perpetrators to justice.

A report that a British inquiry team issued to the British government has never been published and is made public by the documentary. According to the report, Modi was “personally accountable for an atmosphere of impunity” that sparked the rioting in Gujarat.

The Indian government banned the documentary from being aired on television or online. They said that it was “false and malicious” and that it would incite communal violence. The BBC defended the documentary, saying that it was fair and accurate and said that they had offered to the ‘right to reply’ to the Indian government which they declined.

Under what law ban is imposed?

The directions were issued by the Ministry of Information and Broadcast, invoking powers under the IT Rules, 2021.

Rule 16 of IT Rules,2021 deals with blocking of information in case of emergency. Rule 16(2)  states that in case of an emergency nature, the Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting may, if he is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient and justifiable for blocking for public access of any information or part thereof through any computer resource and after recording reasons in writing, as an interim measure issue such directions as he may consider necessary to such identified or identifiable persons, publishers or intermediary in control of such computer resource hosting such information or part thereof without giving him an opportunity of hearing.

Further, the rule states that the Authorized Officer, at the earliest but not later than forty-eight hours of the issue of direction under sub-rule (2), shall bring the request before the Committee for its consideration and recommendation,” the rules specify.

What does this mean for freedom of the press in India?

Freedom of the press or media refers to the rights given by the Constitution of India under the freedom and expression of speech in Article 19(1)(a). It encourages independent journalism and promotes democracy by letting the people voice their opinions for or against the government’s actions. However, there are certain restrictions in Article 19(2) to protect the nation and its integrity. The restrictions can be imposed in case of threats against the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security of the state.

Recently, U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price described India banning the BBC documentary on Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a matter of press freedom, the U.S. State Department said that it is high time to highlight the importance of democratic principles like freedom of expression and make it a point around the world as well as in India.

“We continue to highlight the importance of democratic principles, such as freedom of expression, freedom of religion or belief, as human rights that contribute to the strengthening of our democracies. This is a point we make in our relationships around the world. It’s certainly a point we’ve made in India as well.”

The ban on the BBC documentary “Modi Question” has caused quite a stir among the people of India. Many are outraged at the government’s decision to censor the film, while others believe that it was necessary in order to protect the country’s image.

Since coming to power in 2014, Modi and Bharatiya Janata Party have been accused of stifling free speech and promoting an atmosphere of fear and intimidation. In 2020, India was ranked 150th out of 180 countries on the Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index.


The banning of the BBC documentary “Modi Question” has created a wave of criticism from many news outlets and media observers. It has highlighted an alarming trend in India: censorship and media repression of any information or stories which might cast the government in a bad light. The citizens must be informed on all matters relevant to their lives without fear or restriction by the Government.


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