The government on Wednesday said it would not allow broadcast of a controversial documentary featuring a convict as members of the December 16 Delhi gang rape 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, he said he has asked the information and broadcasting ministry to look for ways to ban its broadcast abroad. Singh said he would also review the existing provisions for allowing such shoots inside prisons to ensure that such incidents are not repeated.
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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 gang-rape 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 filmmakers 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... The 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. 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".
The I&B ministry declared that the said content violated the programming code and advised TV channels to see to it that the norms were not violated.
Speaking to reporters, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting, Rajyavardhan Rathore, said it was the previous United Progressive Alliance government which had given permission in 2013 to a BBC filmmaker to interview the convict. He said that while the home ministry has objected to it citing certain reasons, the I&B ministry, too, has issued an advisory. "Because this whole broadcast and the content of the broadcast violates the programming code of the information and broadcasting ministry, wherein there is derogatory language towards women, it seems to incite violence against women... there is also contempt of court in the context of the interview as the matter is sub-judice.
"It perhaps creates or will create a law and order situation. It also creates a sense of fear in the women in our society," Rathore said.
Asked whether the ministry would take action if some channel went ahead and telecast the interview, the minister said that the "content of the interview is violative of the programming code". He advised the channels to keep in mind that the code should not be violated.
Meanwhile, replying to a query, Rathore said that the home ministry was probing the circumstances and the process under which the interview was allowed of the convict at Tihar Jail.
Asked by a reporter as to whether the government is aware that the interview is available online, Rathore said, "Online content is available to a person who goes online, specifically, perhaps individually. Whereas content that is available on programming channels is available to everyone, and, hence, there is a programming code for that.”