“I am referring directly to the two BBC documentaries that have, of late, arrested our attention. The first documentary speaks about our present Prime Minister as Chief Minister of the State and what was done or not done in the Godhra riot time. The second documentary speaks of our Prime Minister leading the nation today and playing “divisive politics” is how the BBC puts it and refers to the Citizenship Amendment Act, refers to cow vigilantes murdering people etc” – Justice RF Nariman, former Supreme Court Judge, BBC Documentary
While addressing the inaugural Jitendra Desai Memorial Lecture, organised by the Navajivan Trust in Gujarat’s Ahmedabad on the topic “Freedom of Speech: Contemporary Challenges” the former judge recalled how his friend and former Union Minister late Arun Jaitley had batted for freedom of speech and expression. He expressed his concerns regarding frequent hate speeches against particular religious minorities and slammed the recent ban by the Central government on the BBC Documentary titled, ‘India: The Modi Question’ relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots.
He further criticised the subsequent raids on the BBC office by the Income Tax Department, stating that the raids were “even more unfortunate” than the ban itself and highlighted the futility of the ban, referring to the internet as “hydra-headed” and explaining that anything removed from one place would “pop up” elsewhere.
He added that the use of State machinery like the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and the Income Department in a coercive manner is creating a chilling effect on free speech. Moreover, television and print media do not criticise the government the way they used to.