Home Nation News What are ‘Emergency’ Powers of IT Rules Under Which BBC Documentary on Modi is Blocked?

What are ‘Emergency’ Powers of IT Rules Under Which BBC Documentary on Modi is Blocked?

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What are ‘Emergency’ Powers of IT Rules Under Which BBC Documentary on Modi is Blocked?

The Centre earlier issued instructions for blocking a number of YouTube movies and Twitter posts sharing hyperlinks to the controversial BBC documentary “India: The Modi Question”, reports cited sources as saying.

The two-part BBC documentary, which claims it investigated certain aspects relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots when Prime Minister Narendra Modi was the chief minister of the state, has been trashed by the Ministry of External Affairs as a “propaganda piece” that lacked objectivity and reflected a “colonial mindset”.

The directions on blocking access were understood to have been issued by Apurva Chandra, Secretary, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Friday using the emergency powers under the IT Rules, 2021.

What are these rules?

Rule 16 of the IT Rules, 2021 — formally known as the Information Technology (Intermediary Guidelines and Digital Media Ethics Code) Rules, 2021 — notified on February 25, 2021, describes the government’s power of ‘Blocking of information in case of emergency,’ according to a report by the Indian Express.

“In case of 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…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,” says the rule.

Such orders may be issued for a variety of reasons, including national security and public order, the report explained.

What are Govt’s and Experts’ Stance on the Documentary?

PTI quoted sources as saying that senior officials of several ministries, including external affairs, home affairs, and information and broadcasting, examined the documentary and found it to be an attempt to cast aspersions on the authority and credibility of the Supreme Court, sow divisions among various Indian communities, and make unsubstantiated allegations regarding actions of foreign governments in India.

While opposition parties like the Congress and the TMC criticised the Modi government for “censorship”, a bunch of 302 former judges, ex-bureaucrats and veterans slammed the BBC documentary as a “motivated cost sheet in opposition to our chief, a fellow Indian and a patriot” and a reflection of “dyed-in-the-wool negativity and unrelenting prejudice”.

In a press release, the previous bureaucrats and others claimed the documentary is the archetype of previous British imperialism in India setting itself up as each choose and jury to resurrect Hindu-Muslim tensions that have been overwhelmingly the creation of the British Raj coverage of divide and rule.

Former Rajasthan High Court chief justice Anil Deo Singh, former dwelling secretary L C Goyal, former overseas secretary Shashank, former RAW chief Sanjeev Tripathi and former NIA director Yogesh Chander Modi are among the many signatories to the assertion.

This documentary is not a impartial critique and is not about exercising inventive freedom or a divergent, anti-establishment level of view, the assertion signed by 13 former judges, 133 ex-bureaucrats, together with diplomats, and 156 veterans mentioned.

“Not solely is the BBC sequence, judging from what we now have seen of it to date, based mostly on delusional and evidently lopsided reporting, nevertheless it presumes to query the very foundation of the 75-year-old edifice of India’s existence as an impartial, democratic nation, a nation which features in accordance with the need of the individuals of India,” it said.

Giving reasons for taking down the documentary, the sources told PTI it was found to be undermining the sovereignty and integrity of India, and having the potential to adversely impact friendly relations with foreign states as also public order within the country.

Orders have also been issued to Twitter for blocking over 50 tweets containing links to the YouTube videos concerned, they said, adding that social media platforms have complied with the directions.

On Thursday, External Affairs Ministry spokesman Arindam Bagchi sharply condemned the BBC documentary when asked about it. “Let me just make it very clear that we think this is a propaganda piece designed to push a particular discredited narrative. The bias, the lack of objectivity, and frankly a continuing colonial mindset, are blatantly visible,” he mentioned.

On feedback made by former British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw on the riots, Bagchi mentioned he appeared to be referring to some inside report of the UK authorities.

“How do I’ve entry to that? It is a 20-year-old report. Why would I simply soar on it now? Just as a result of Jack Straw says it, how do they lend it that a lot legitimacy?” he wondered.

With inputs from PTI

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