Government on Wednesday said it would not allow broadcast of a controversial documentary featuring a Nirbhaya gangrape convict as Members of Parliament, cutting across party lines, expressed outrage over the incident.
Maintaining that it would not allow commercial use of such incidents, Home Minister Rajnath Singh said he was “stunned” as to how permission was granted for the convict’s interview inside the Tihar Jail in the first place.
Making a statement in both Houses, Singh assured Parliament that Government would order a probe into it to fix responsibility for the shooting of this controversial documentary film of Nirbhya gang-rape convict.
He said that he has asked Information and Broadcasting Ministry to look for ways to ban its broadcast abroad and would review the existing provisions for allowing such shoots inside prisons to ensure that such incidents do not recur.
The Home Minister’s statement in both Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha came after Opposition protests in the Upper House, including a walkout by Samajwadi Party members, and vociferous protests in the Lower House with members demanding action over the December 16, 2012 gangrape convict being allowed to give an outrageous interview from inside the high- security prison.
Singh informed both the Houses that the No Objection Certificate to shoot the documentary was given by his Ministry in July 2013.
Subsequently the jail authorities gave the permission with prior conditions like the film-makers would have to show the unedited version of the shoot or take prior approval for telecasting or publishing any part of the shoot.
Noting that the conditions were violated, he said, “Under no circumstances, this documentary will be allowed to be broadcast. . . Government has taken necessary action and secured an order restraining the telecast of the film”.
“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,” he said.
The government strongly condemns it and will “not allow any organisation to leverage such an incident for commercial use”.
Observing that not only Parliament but the entire nation was feeling ashamed over it, Singh said he has already spoken to Information and Broadcasting Ministry and told them to explore ways to ensure that the documentary was not broadcast even abroad.
Members of Samajwadi Party in Rajya Sabha, including Jaya Bachchan who had earlier trooped into the Well with other women opposition members, later staged a walkout.
Observing that the producers were required to take approval from jail authorities before telecast, he said the authorities’ permission was also required for either publishing of a research paper or releasing the documentary film which should have been made for purely social purposes without any commercial interest. However, they had not done so and the conditions under which they were permitted to shoot were violated, Singh said.
“Our Government condemns the incident of 16th December, 2012 in the strongest possible terms and will not allow any attempt by any individual, group or organization to leverage such unfortunate incidents for commercial benefit”.
“Now, it has come to notice that on 8 March 2015, BBC Four is going to telecast this documentary film. Government has taken necessary legal action and obtained a restraining order from the court disseminating the contents of the film,” the Minister said.
“It came to the notice of the jail authorities that the permission conditions have been violated and hence a legal notice was issued to them on April 7, 2014 to return the unedited footage within 15 days and also not to show the film as it violates the permission conditions,” Singh said.
Subsequently, the documentary film was shown to the jail authorities where it was noticed that the documentary film depicted the convict’s comments “which are highly derogatory and are an affront to the dignity of women.”
The Home Minister said it was also noticed that the film shown was the edited version and not the unedited one.
“Hence, they were requested to provide full copy of the unedited film shootout for further review by the authorities and asked not to release/screen the documentary till it is approved by the authorities,” he said.